WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - 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.
24 Feb 2004 07:09
SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Three senior members of a frontline Kashmiri rebel group were killed in an overnight gunbattle with the army, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.
Separatist violence continues unabated in Kashmir despite peace moves between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, who were on the verge of a third war over the Himalayan region in 2002.
The spokesman said the Hizbul Mujahideen leaders were killed in a clash in Shopian area south of Srinagar. The Hizbul Mujahideen is fighting for Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.
Elsewhere, five people, including a soldier and two militants, have been killed in shootouts and an explosion in the Himalayan region in the past 24 hours.
India accuses Pakistan of fomenting separatist violence in Kashmir by arming and training guerrillas. Pakistan denies the charge.
The two countries last week held talks for the first time in nearly three years and announced a "basic roadmap" to end their enmity.
Authorities say more than 40,000 people have been killed since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in its only Muslim-majority state at the end of 1989. Separatists put the toll at more than 80,000.