Egypt admits failing to report nuclear research to UN watchdog agency (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) VIENNA, Austria 01/27/05 1:06 PM ET)
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VIENNA (AFP) - Egypt admitted to failing to report a "number of
research experiments" to the UN atomic energy agency, after
diplomats said the agency was investigating an Egyptian lab that
could be used to make plutonium, a nuclear weapons material.
But "Egypt is cooperating with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy
Agency)" and feels the "research experiments and activities ... most
of which took place in the distant past are consistent with the
NPT," the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Egyptian embassy
said in a statement released in Vienna.
The statement said stronger safeguards measures by the IAEA "since
the 1990´s have resulted in not reporting to the agency, in an
appropriate and timely manner, a number of research experiments and
Egyptian ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told AFP it was a case that
with "strengthened safeguards, countries sometimes don´t know what
they are required to report."
He said news reports of Egyptian safeguards failures
were "exaggerated" and that Egypt has a strictly peaceful nuclear
The statement said "Egypt understands that the agency is aware of
the limited scope of the issue" and feels that the "agency values
the level of cooperation Egypt is extending."
Egypt has not however signed an additional protocol to the NPT that
allows for tough IAEA inspections.
IAEA officials refused to comment on the investigation.
Diplomats had told AFP last week that UN inspectors investigating
undeclared nuclear activity in Egypt that could be related to atomic
weapons development are checking out a reprocessing lab for making
The reprocessing laboratory is at Egypt´s Inshass center, 35
kilometres (20 miles) northeast of Cairo, where there are two
The lab consists of "hot laboratories, procured from France in the
early 1980s, which allow for treatment of spent fuel and laboratory-
scale plutonium separation," a diplomat said.
Ramzy said: "Hot cells can also be for research and this situation
will be clarified within the next few weeks," apparently referring
to when the IAEA publishes the results of its investigation.
The diplomat said the IAEA had last October "checked, among other
things, the historical records of the nuclear material in the hot
cell labs and in the nuclear waste management center," in addition
to interviewing people involved in research work.
The lab, which apparently has never been used for reprocessing,
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
But a diplomat close to the IAEA, who asked not to be named, said
Egypt´s undeclared work was small scale and not even comparable to
South Korea (news - web sites), a non-atomic-weapons state which has
admitted carrying out rogue nuclear experiments.
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, a 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), the diplomat said. (Copyright © 2005 Agence
France Presse. 01/27/05)
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