IAEA writing report on Egyptian nuclear reporting failures but not on Iran
VIENNA (AFP) Feb 04, 2005
The UN atomic agency is writing a report on its investigation of suspicious nuclear activity in Egypt but not on Iran, which the United States says is secretly developing atomic weapons, diplomats said Friday.
Cairo has already admitted it failed to tell the agency about some research experiments but diplomats said these were expected to be minor rather than major violations of international nuclear safeguards agreements.
Iran meanwhile has been accused by the United States of outright violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Washington wants the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
The Egypt report will be submitted to a meeting that opens in Vienna February 28 of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors, which decides whether to take safeguards' violating nations to the Security Council.
The IAEA is "writing a report, yes," a diplomat close to the agency told AFP, confirming that Egypt's nuclear program will now be a special topic of consideration at the board meeting.
This comes as Iran is being dropped as a special topic.
It will be the first board meeting in almost two years, after seven written reports, that IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei will not be writing a report on Tehran's nuclear program.
This is a result of a deal Iran struck at the last board meeting in November when it agreed to halt uranium enrichment in order to move towards the normalization of its file at the IAEA, which has already documented 18 years of hidden nuclear activities.
ElBaradei is expected however to mention the IAEA's two-year-old investigation of Iran, which is continuing, in his opening comments to the board and Iran's program will be discussed at the meeting.
A diplomat said Egypt's undeclared work was small scale and not comparable to Iran or even to South Korea, a non-atomic-weapons state which has admitted carrying out rogue nuclear experiments.
The experiments the IAEA is looking into involve making uranium metal, which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium, and carrying out the first steps of uranium enrichment by making uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), the diplomat said.
"There are a number of little failures" in honoring international safeguards to report, the diplomat said.
Egypt admitted on January 27 to failing to signal a "number of research experiments" to the IAEA, after diplomats said the agency was investigating an Egyptian lab that could be used to make plutonium, a nuclear weapons material.
The reprocessing laboratory is at Egypt's Inshass center, 35 kilometresmiles) northeast of Cairo, where there are two research reactors, and consists of "hot laboratories, procured from France in the early 1980s, which allow for treatment of spent fuel and laboratory-scale plutonium separation," a diplomat said.
But "Egypt is cooperating with the IAEA" and feels the "research experiments and activities ... most of which took place in the distant past are consistent with the NPT," the Egyptian embassy had said in a statement released in Vienna.
The statement said Egypt had been slow to respond to stronger safeguards measures by the IAEA "since the 1990s" and had thus failed from lack of awareness of the new rules to report "to the agency, in an appropriate and timely manner, a number of research experiments and activities."
IAEA officials refused to comment on the investigation.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.