Iran Denies Polonium on Agenda for Talks With U.N. Agency

Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 6, 2014, 8:46 a.m.

Ir­an re­jec­ted claims that a Sat­urday meet­ing may spot­light its past work with a po­ten­tial in­gredi­ent for trig­ger­ing nuc­le­ar ex­plo­sions, Ir­an Daily Brief re­ports.

“We are not go­ing to dis­cuss any is­sues that have already been ex­amined and closed” with the U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog agency, Ir­a­ni­an Atom­ic En­ergy Or­gan­iz­a­tion spokes­man Behrouz Kamal­vandi said in Per­sian-lan­guage news re­ports quoted by the web­site on Thursday.

He was re­fer­ring to me­dia chat­ter about the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency’s pos­sible re­newed in­terest in the na­tion’s pre­vi­ous re­search in­volving po­loni­um 210. The or­gan­iz­a­tion in 2008 said Ir­an had sat­is­fact­or­ily answered its ques­tions con­cern­ing the sub­stance, but IAEA Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Yukiya Amano at a Mu­nich con­fer­ence last week­end said his or­gan­iz­a­tion wanted to “cla­ri­fy” re­lated mat­ters.

The un­usu­al ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­al could be used to help det­on­ate nuc­le­ar blasts, but also has some ci­vil­ian ap­plic­a­tions.

At the same time, en­voys are guardedly hope­ful that Ir­an will agree in this week­end’s talks to be­gin al­low­ing some in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to wheth­er it car­ried out past activ­it­ies rel­ev­ant to the po­ten­tial weapon­iz­a­tion of its nuc­le­ar work, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Thursday.

The Vi­enna-based nuc­le­ar agency might ini­tially lim­it its de­mands for Ir­an — which in­sists its nuc­le­ar pro­gram is strictly peace­ful — to per­mit scru­tiny of so-called “pos­sible mil­it­ary di­men­sions,” or “PMD,” of its atom­ic activ­it­ies.

One West­ern dip­lo­mat said IAEA ne­go­ti­at­ors “ab­so­lutely have to start with some PMD is­sues. Low-hanging fruit would be fine as long as it was real PMD.”

A fo­cus on less di­vis­ive pri­or­it­ies sug­gests the U.N. agency might hold off for the mo­ment on de­mand­ing ac­cess to a mil­it­ary base where Ir­an is sus­pec­ted to have car­ried out nuc­le­ar arms-rel­ev­ant re­search, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. Oth­er points of con­cern in­clude an al­leg­a­tion that Ir­an car­ried out di­git­al mod­el­ing activ­it­ies tied to po­ten­tial nuc­le­ar tests.

The IAEA probe “is about be­ing thor­ough and trans­par­ent, not about be­ing fast,” said the West­ern en­voy, who Re­u­ters said was not af­fil­i­ated with any of the six gov­ern­ments ne­go­ti­at­ing with Ir­an on its dis­puted nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies.

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