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Western Diplomats Say Iran Making Nuclear-Related Gas in Large Amounts - 2004-11-19


Western diplomats say Iran is producing a significant amount of gas that can be used to make nuclear weapons, just days before its promised freeze on all such nuclear related activity.

The diplomats, who asked not to be named, told reporters in Vienna on Friday that the gas is uranium hexafluoride, which is used to purify uranium for use as fuel in nuclear plants. When its freeze takes effect on Monday, Iran is supposed to halt production of the gas.

Earlier this week, Iran announced a deal with European governments to suspend uranium enrichment and all related activities. The Europeans had warned that they would support proposed international sanctions against Tehran if it refused to agree to halt its enrichment efforts.

The United States has accused Iran of secretly developing atomic weapons. Tehran has consistently denied that accusation, saying its nuclear program is designed to generate electricity.

Iran today urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to ignore an exiled opposition group's allegation that Tehran has a secret nuclear weapons facility. The chief Iranian delegate to the Vienna-based nuclear agency, Hossein Mousavian, said the IAEA should not damage its prestige by listening to the charges of what he called a terrorist group.

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