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Iran-nuclear: China Gave Iran Beryllium For Nuclear Program

Hossein Abedini in London ConferenceAssociated Press, LONDON, September 1 – Iran obtained 20 kilograms of beryllium for its nuclear weapons program from China last year, an Iranian opposition group claimed Thursday.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran didn’t identify the source of its claim, but it said the beryllium was imported by the Madj Gostar company.

"According to reliable reports from inside Iran obtained by the Iranian resistance recently, the clerical regime is trying vigorously to obtain beryllium metal to be used in its secret nuclear project," he said.

At a news conference in Paris in February, the group claimed it had evidence that Iran was acquiring beryllium as part of an effort to make detonators for nuclear devices.

Beryllium can be used in the development of nuclear weapons, reducing by as much as a third the need for enriched uranium or plutonium.

There was no immediate comment from Iran’s government. Officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is probing Iran’s nuclear program for possible signs of a weapons program, said they had nothing to say about the allegations.

But a diplomat close to the agency and familiar with Iran’s nuclear program said the agency appeared not to possess any evidence linking Iran to large-scale imports of beryllium. The diplomat spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, saying the issue was confidential.

Abedini said Madj Gostar was set up with the express intent to dupe international investigators and monitors.

"In a private conversation a while ago, the director of Majd Gostar said that the regime’s goal for setting up this company as a private company was that whenever the smuggling or manufacturing of beryllium in Iran would be divulged to the IAEA, this would provide deniability for the civilian use of the material," he said.

Asked if China’s government was aware of the sale, Abedini said it was likely that the Beryllium was smuggled out of China without Beijing’s knowledge.

China’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the claim.