PARIS - Iran is violating international
agreements by secretly importing an extra-durable
steel for use in its nuclear program, an exiled Iranian opposition group
Some of the group's past information about Iran's nuclear program has proved
accurate. The Iranian government, which says it has no nuclear weapons
program, routinely refuses to respond to its allegations from the
Thursday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran claimed that front
companies for the Iranian regime were smuggling in maraging
steel, an alloy that withstands high stress and heat and can be used to
build centrifuges for uranium enrichment. It also has applications in
"At present, maraging steel is being
smuggled to Iran illegally from other
countries," Mohammed Mohaddessin, head of
the group's foreign affairs committee, told a news conference in Paris.
The group said it did not know exactly how much of the metal was being
brought into Iran. It alleged that some of it
came from Malaysia and was shipped to the United Arab Emirates before reaching Iran.
The Iranian opposition group said research on maraging
steel was being conducted at Malek Ashtar University in Tehran and at other scientific centers
and that the country was close to producing it.
The group said it had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the
U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, of its findings.
Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Vienna-based agency, said its
experts "will review the claims to see if there's anything to
them." She declined to elaborate.
Maraging steel is on a list of goods to be
subject to export controls because they could be used for nuclear purposes.
If Iran is importing maraging
steel, it has a responsibility to disclose it, said Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International
Should the allegations prove true, Cirincione
said, they show that "Iran is still violating its treaty
obligations, and that the nuclear black market is alive and well, still
supplying these materials to countries that seek them."
The opposition group said Iran was also using maraging steel to build nuclear bomb casings. But Cirincione said that using such a
tough steel for that purpose was unnecessary.