Skip to comments.IAEA inspectors investigate nuclear lab in Egypt - diplomats
Posted on 01/20/2005 8:18:23 AM PST by HAL9000
VIENNA (AFX) - UN inspectors are investigating undeclared nuclear activity in Egypt which could be related to atomic weapons development, diplomats said.
The International Atomic Agency (IAEA) are checking a reprocessing lab which makes plutonium, the diplomats said.
Closeau is back!
UN inspectors investigating undeclared nuclear activity in Egypt that could be related to atomic weapons development are checking out a reprocessing lab for making plutonium, diplomats said.
The lab, apparently put together in the 1980s but never used, raises questions about an Egyptian nuclear program which is peaceful but may also be carefully structured to be able to move towards weapons development if Cairo decided to take this step, diplomats said in recent comments.
"It's not empty, the Egyptian story," a diplomat close to the UN's nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency told AFP, commenting on the ongoing investigation and hinting there are more undeclared activities than inspectors of the Vienna-based IAEA had originally thought.
But the diplomat, who asked not to be named, said Egypt's undeclared work was small scale and not even comparable to South Korea, a non-atomic-weapons state which has admitted to carrying out small-scale rogue nuclear experiments.
A second diplomat said the main question with Egypt is not what it is hiding but the range of its nuclear activities, in a country that is a regional power concerned about alleged nuclear weapons programs in Israel and Iran.
"Egypt is building a physical and manpower infrastructure which, added to past know-how and experience, enable it to master an important part of the nuclear fuel cycle technology.
"This infrastructure could be used to promote a military nuclear program," the diplomat said.
A third diplomat played this down, however, saying the Egyptian installations are "rundown, dirty, dilapidated."
The IAEA has been intensively investigating Egypt since the middle of 2004 after it was tipped off to possible undeclared nuclear experiments, with much information coming from open-source scientific publications by Egyptian scientists, one diplomat said.
The experiments the IAEA is looking into involve making uranium metal, which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium, and carrying out the first steps of uranium enrichment by making uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), one diplomat said.
The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. The Pakistanis let him out.