VIENNA — Iran is close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press. Diplomats said the assessment was heightening international concern about Tehran's nuclear activities.
Such a deal would be significant because, according to the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.
The AP reported that the report was drawn up by a member nation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and provided to the agency on condition that the country not be identified because of the confidential nature of the information.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "The transfer of any uranium yellowcake … to Iran would constitute a clear violation" of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
A two-page summary of the report obtained by the AP said the deal could be completed within weeks. It said Tehran was willing to pay $450 million for the shipment.
After-hours calls to offices of Kazatomprom, the Kazakh state uranium company, in Kazakhstan and Moscow were not answered. Iranian nuclear officials also did not answer their telephones.
Iran is under three sets of Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze its enrichment program and related activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies such aspirations, saying it wants to enrich only to fuel an envisaged network of power reactors.