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Diplomats say Iran removed equipment

UN nuclear inspectors revisiting an Iranian laboratory to follow up on activities that could be linked to a secret nuclear weapons program recently discovered that some equipment believed used in the experiments has disappeared, diplomats said.

world Updated: May 28, 2010 21:51 IST

UN nuclear inspectors revisiting an Iranian laboratory to follow up on activities that could be linked to a secret nuclear weapons program recently discovered that some equipment believed used in the experiments has disappeared, diplomats said on Friday.

One of the diplomats told The Associated Press that senior officials within the International Atomic Energy Agency - the UN nuclear watchdog - were concerned that the removal was an attempted coverup.

Two others confirmed that some apparatus had gone missing. One said it was too early to draw conclusions, suggesting it could have been taken to another site for nothing more than maintenance. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because information surrounding the Iran nuclear probe is confidential.

At issue is pyroprocessing, a procedure that can be used to purify uranium metal used in nuclear warheads.

Iran in January confirmed to the agency that it had carried out pyroprocessing experiments, prompting a request from the nuclear agency for more information - but then backtracked in March in comments at a closed meeting of the IAEA's governing board.