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IAEA clarifies misleading media reports on Iran


CASMII Press Release (

 Following the release of IAEA's latest report on Iran last week, a number of scaremongering anti-Iran headlines appeared in the Western media. The LA times chose its headline as "Iran has enough fuel for a nuclear bomb". The New York Times went for "Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon" and FOX news reported: "Iran Produces Enough Uranium to Build Nuclear Weapon". In the UK, the Daily Telegraph's article titled "Iran has enough uranium 'to build a nuclear bomb'" and the Daily Mail announced: "Iran 'has the fuel to build nuclear bomb'". The anti-Iran articles also gave the impression that Iran had deliberately underreported the production of low enriched uranium at Natanz.

In response to questions by Dr. Kaveh Afrasiabi, the IAEA spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, has issued a statement clarifying the IAEA's position regarding the misleading articles in the US and European press concerning Iran's production of low-enriched uranium.

IAEA Statement issued by Melissa Fleming on Sunday February 22, 2009.

Here is our clarifying response:

There have been a number of reports in the media commenting that Iran has underreported the production of low enriched uranium at Natanz. In this regard, it is important to note that:

  • As clearly indicated, "estimates" of production quoted in IAEA reports to the Board of Governors have been just that, i.e. best estimates made by the operator (this is also the case for the estimate of production - 171 kg between 18 November 2008 and 31 January 2009 - given in the latest report);
  • Such estimates are based on the operator's predictions of how the plant will perform - they are not formal declarations by the country;
  • In contrast, the figures given in the IAEA's latest report for the amount of low enriched uranium actually produced as of 17 November 2008 (839 kg of UF6) were based on actual measurement made by the operator that have been carefully verified by the Agency. It is also important to note that:
  • No nuclear material could have been removed from the facility without the Agency's knowledge since the facility is subject to video surveillance and the nuclear material has been kept under seal;
  • The Agency has no reason at all to believe that the estimates of the low enriched uranium produced in the facility were an intentional error by Iran - they are inherent in the early commissioning phases of such a facility when it is not known in advance how it will perform in practice;
  • Iran has provided good cooperation on this matter and will be working to improve its future estimates.
  • As for the question about the amount of LEU and what that equates, this is a question we get following every report. It has been deemed a matter of great public interest how much nuclear material Iran has produced. It is our job to put that into perspective, which we also attempted to do with the media in this case. The word "theoretical" meant just that and it was explained the other steps, implications and consequences that would be needed for any country under IAEA safeguards to take it further.

    End of IAEA Statement

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