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Another Iran nuke program uncovered

U.N inspectors in Iran have discovered more nuke experiments not previously disclosed by Tehran, reported The Washington Post.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2004 13:57 IST

U.N inspectors in Iran have discovered more nuclear experiments not previously disclosed by Tehran, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with an account inspectors were expected to submit to the United Nations this week.

According to the newspaper, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that Iran produced and experimented with polonium, an element useful in initiating the chain reaction that produces a nuclear explosion.

In the article from Tehran, the newspaper said Iran reportedly acknowledged the experiments but offered an explanation involving another of polonium's other possible uses, which include power generation.

Experts said research on polonium would be done early in a weapons program, the Post reported.

"It's quite clear they were trying to make an explosive device," one person with knowledge of the polonium discovery was quoted as saying. "But they hadn't gotten far enough. No one will find a smoking gun, because they weren't able to make a gun."

Last week, diplomats on the nuclear agency's governing board and a U.S. official said that U.N. inspectors in Iran had discovered components which were usable in advanced centrifuges for extracting enriched uranium.

Tehran maintains that it had no such equipment and denies that it had any intention of developing a nuclear weapons program.

"There was a report that they found (advanced P2 enrichment centrifuge) parts in some military base, which was not true," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told Reuters on Friday.

"What we have is a research project that hasn't been implemented yet. There are no (P2 centrifuge) parts in any place in Iran. They are just trying to create a fuss about this."

Iran admitted late last year to an 18-year cover-up of sensitive nuclear research and signed up to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.

First Published: Feb 24, 2004 13:57 IST