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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Iran Denies Polonium on Agenda for Talks With U.N. Agency
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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