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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weapons grade uranium found in Egypt

Wed, 06 May 2009 - PressTV

The UN nuclear watchdog is investigating the discovery of traces of highly enriched uranium (HEU) -- at or near weapons grade level -- in Egypt, reports say.

According to a restricted report conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN nuclear inspectors found the traces while verifying Egypt's Non-Proliferation Treaty compliance in 2008.

Although the IAEA report did not specify whether the retrieved samples were weapon grade uranium or not, a senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that the particles were at or near weapons grade level, or in the stage that could be used for atomic arms.

The report's page-long section on Egypt said the highly enriched uranium (HEU) traces were found in swipe samples taken at Insha's nuclear research site near Cairo 2007-08.

Uranium can be enriched to high enough levels to be used in nuclear warheads.

Egypt has given an explanation about the HEU traces, saying that the traces may have been imported to the country on "contaminated radio isotopes containers.

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Radio isotopes are mainly used in scientific and medical research. HEU and low enriched uranium can both be used in making radio isotopes.

The IAEA says that it is the first time such traces have been found since Egypt failed to notify the agency of its nuclear activities in 2004 and that it was continuing its investigation into the matter.


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