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. Iran tried to acquire nuclear equipment at suspect Lavizan site: UN agency
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 15, 2004
Iran tried to acquire equipment that could have been used in uranium enrichment at the Lavizan site in Tehran which the United States says was used for developing weapons of mass destruction, the UN atomic agency said in a report Monday.

Iran gave this new information only last month about Lavizan, a plot of land from which buildings and topsoil were removed over the past year.

Iran has said the site was razed since the defense ministry was returning the land to the city of Tehran, after having used it since 1989 for a physics research center studying casualties due to possible nuclear attacks, the report said.

But it said "in October 2004, Iran provided some information to the agency" about the physics research center trying "to acquire dual use materials and equipment that could be useful in uranium enrichment or conversion activities."

The IAEA has found "no evidence of nuclear material" from "vegetation and soil samples" it has taken at Lavizan but said this may be because all the topsoil had been removed.

Suspicion has surrounded the Lavizan site since satellite images from a US commercial firm showed that buildings which had been there in August 2003 had been razed to the ground by March 2004 and that topsoil had been taken away.

The Washington think tank the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said on its website that this set alarm bells ringing "because it is the type of measure Iran would need to take if it was trying to defeat the powerful environmental sampling capabilities of IAEA inspectors."

Environmental sampling involves swipes taken to find traces of radiation.

The United States claims that Iran is hiding an atomic weapons program and has urged the IAEA to bring Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

The IAEA also took environmental samples from "two whole body counter," machines, designed to measure radiation on humans, which were connected with Lavizan "and a trailer said to have contained one of the containers while it was located at Lavizan," the report said.

The IAEA said it was still looking, however, for the trailer that contained the other counter, in order to check it for radiation that might show what sort of work the Iranians were doing at Lavizan.

The IAEA meanwhile also said Monday in the report that it had requested to visit the military complex of Parchin, 30 kilometres (19 miles) southeast of Tehran, "in order to provide assurance regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities at that site" but was still waiting for permission to go there.

Iran has denied carrying out any nuclear-related work at Parchin, but a senior US official told AFP in September that the United States was concerned about high-explosives testing in Parchin that may "amount to (nuclear) weapons intent".

The official said the concern about Parchin was that the Iranians may be working on testing "high-explosive shaped charges with an inert core of depleted uranium" as a sort of dry test for how a bomb with fissile material would work.

The official said the IAEA had, according to verbal accounts, dropped the mention of Parchin in its September 1 report on Iran, as well as a reference to concern about Iran's work with beryllium.

Beryllium has civilian applications but can also be used in combination with polonium to make a neutron initiator that is effectively a trigger for a nuclear bomb.

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