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. Iran producing uranium feed that can be used to make nuclear weapons
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 19, 2004
Iran is producing the uranium feedstuff that could be used to make nuclear weapons, only days before it is due to introduce a promised ban on all such enrichment activities, diplomats told AFP Friday.

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September that Iran was planning to convert 37 tonnes of uranium yellowcake created an international outcry that led Britain, France and Germany to negotiate a full enrichment suspension with Tehran.

"All 37 tonnes of uranium yellowcake ore have been introduced into Iran's uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and an unknown amount of UF6 (the uranium hexafluoride gas used as the feed to make enriched uranium) has been produced," a Western diplomat said.

His comments were confirmed by another diplomat close to the IAEA, which has inspectors in Iran ready to verify the suspension of uranium enrichment which Tehran has said will begin Monday.

Iran had agreed last Sunday to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, in an accord worked out with Britain, France and Germany on behalf of the European Union.

A US official said Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian had told the European trio that Iran would not convert the uranium yellowcake into the UF6 gas in the interval between reaching the agreement and its actually taking effect "but that verbal assurance meant nothing and this is clearly more bad faith by Iran."

Thirty-seven tonnes of yellowcake, converted into UF6 and then spun in centrifuges into highly enriched uranium (HEU), could make enough HEU for from four to six atomic bombs.

Iran has insisted that it is enriching uranium to make fuel for its civilian nuclear energy program.

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