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Major Uranium Producer to Host Iranian President

Niger, which produces the fourth greatest amount of uranium worldwide, was to receive a visit on Monday from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Reuters reported.

Uranium enrichment has been a leading concern by the United States and partner nations seeking to resolve a long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The process can be used to produce reactor fuel or nuclear-weapon material.

Tehran, which says its atomic work has no military intent, earlier this month declared it would activate two additional uranium mines and a processing plant.

Iran, though, must "rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium," according to a new report from the Federation of American Scientists and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Despite the Iranian leadership's assertions to the contrary, Iran's estimated uranium endowments are nowhere near sufficient to supply its planned nuclear program," the report says.

There was no immediate word on whether Ahmadinejad's trip to Niger would include an agreement on uranium sales.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post on Monday reported on suspicions that a newly closed plant in Germany might have been secretly intended to provide Iran with key materials and technology for its nuclear program. Firms managed by Tehran took control of the company a decade ago, and it at one point sought unsuccessfully to export a machine that could be used in manufacturing enrichment centrifuges and missiles. The MCS site also continues to hold 2,600 pounds of carbon fiber that could have been employed in production of 550 or more high-end centrifuges.

Separately, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday expressed concern about the potential for radiation releases from Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant following a nearby earthquake last week, Reuters reported.

Iran said the 6.3-magnitude earthquake did not damage the facility. Nonetheless, crisis response personnel from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates addressed the matter during a meeting on Sunday in Riyadh.

"The earthquake that the Iranian city of Bushehr was subject to has raised a great deal of concern among GCC countries and the international community of a possible damage to the Bushehr nuclear reactor that could causing a radioactive leak, God forbid," according to GCC chief Abdulatif al-Zayani. "The GCC countries have previously warned against the danger of the nuclear reactor of Bushehr and the possible nuclear leak and its harmful effect on the environment in the Gulf."

 

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