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Austria's ARC rejects reports over uranium deal with Iran


A top official of the Austrian Research Centers in Seibersdorf (ARC) on Thursday called as "completely incorrect" the last month reports by a US internet news site that Iran has been trying to buy enriched uranium from that center, IRNA reported from Vienna.

ARC Managing Director Helmut Krunes told IRNA that the report of the site is completely politically-motivated, stressing that it is not correct from the technical point of view.

Krunes said the center has had no contact with Iran over the alleged uranium deal, adding that Tehran had also made no request to that effect.

"There has been no such request from Iran and the center has made no proposals to Iran in that connection," he said. The Middle East Newsline on September 30 reported that Iran had sought to obtain a significant amount of enriched uranium from Austria.

It stressed that the Iranian effort took place in 1999 when Tehran launched negotiations for the acquisition of an Austrian nuclear research reactor built in late 1950s.

The site added that Austria had offered Iran its Astra reactor at the Seibersdorf nuclear center in an effort to unload an aging US-origin heavy-water reactor.

Krunes said the reactor of the center belongs to the Austrian government, adding that the request of a certain government must go through diplomatic channels.

He said Iran's request, if any at all, should have been forwarded to Vienna through the Austria Embassy in Tehran, stressing however that the then Austrian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic, Helmuth Werner Ehrlich, has denied any such claims.

"The second reason for rejecting this claim is that we, as a party to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), are not authorized to enter deals with other countries without informing the agency, and IAEA is completely informed of our activities," Krunes said.

Answering a question on another part of the report that the enriched uranium was supposed to be bought from an old reactor in Austria's Seibersdorf, the director said the reactor has been out of function since 1999, adding that it had now stopped all activities. Krunes rejected that the ARC has proposed a bid to sell the reactor or any of its parts to Iran, stressing that any claim to that effect is impossible considering the harsh restrictions that are currently practiced on nuclear activities of such countries as the Islamic Republic.

The Austrian Research Center, based in Austria's Seibersdorf, is the country's largest applied research center with a staff of 800. Its services cover a wide range of areas from food inspection and air pollutant measurement to protection in the case of nuclear accidents.

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