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Iranian Equipment has Enriched Uranium 'Approaching Weapons-Grade'

In yet another piece of evidence that counters Iranian claims of a peaceful nuclear power program, the IAEA released test results that found traces of very highly enriched uranium on swabbed vacuum pumps that were in the Lavizan facility northeast of Tehran. After the IAEA raised questions about the facility and informed Tehran of their desire to inspect in late 2003, the regime promptly dismantled the entire facility in early 2004, including the removal of at least several inches of topsoil. The IAEA later tracked down and sampled the vacuum pumps (used to circulate Uranium gas through centrifuges) that were in use at the Lavizan facility before it was razed.

It is important to note that the IAEA has found ‘highly enriched uranium’. Highly enriched uranium (HEU) is considered to be a mixture that is at a 20% purity level. Weapons-grade HEU is considered to be a mixture at 80% uranium purity. Weapons-Grade Iran had recently announced officially that it had enriched uranium to a 4.8% purity level, sufficient for fueling a nuclear power plant and had no plans for enriching to a higher level.

With those numbers in mind, consider the levels cited by diplomats familiar with the tests as cited by the Associated Press.

Initially, they said the density of enrichment appeared to be close to or above the level used to make nuclear warheads. But later a diplomat accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said it was below that, although higher than the low-enriched material used to generate power and heading toward weapons-grade level.

This from equipment that was used in a military-run facility thoroughly razed and sanitized by the Iranians once it was brought into question. These are also levels generated before 2004. Iran explained previous positive HEU tests as material present in used equipment acquired from other countries. That will likely be the offered explanation in this case as well, and the only possible explanation that will allow Iran to wiggle from under the weight of the findings. While Iran has not yet offered an explanation for the HEU findings, but Ahmadinejad has already dismissed it.

The ‘used foreign equipment’ explanation will not, however, answer the question of why the facility this equipment was used in was razed after inspections were requested, including the very topsoil that surrounded it. (See this in the series of ISIS photos provided by Vital Perspective.) Iran has said in the past that the Lavizan site was demolished to make room for a park. This should be summarily dismissed. With the value Iran places in its nuclear program, leveling a fully functional facility for swings and picnic benches is a laughable explanation.

In light of this announcement, it is interesting that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared today that Iran would operate its nuclear program under IAEA control. Ahmadinejad said, “The IAEA monitors Iran’s nuclear program, and all further activities of Iran in the sphere of nuclear energy will be conducted under the IAEA’s control.” But Iran’s past actions are clearly not consistent with this assertion, including the removal of IAEA cameras and the breaking of seals under IAEA protest.

Continuing, he added, “The international community should not be nervous since Tehran’s nuclear program is absolutely peaceful. Iran is ready for talks with all the countries of the world except Israel.”

If Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful, then why did Iran ask the Pakistani Army for a nuclear bomb (once they produced one) in 1990? If Iran operates under IAEA control, why was Lavizan demolished and cleansed before the IAEA could carry out the requested inspection?

The truth in Ahmadinejad’s words come in their conclusion. “Tehran will never succumb to outside pressure, like it or not.” That much we can be sure of. Outside pressure would presumably include the UN’s IAEA, based in Vienna and New York.