VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog says it wants Iran to clarify past production of small amounts of a rare radioactive material that can help trigger an atomic bomb explosion, but which also has non-military uses.
The comment about polonium by UN atomic agency chief Yukiya Amano at a weekend security conference in Munich suggested the issue may be raised at talks between his experts and Iranian officials on Feb. 8.
It also signaled his determination to get to the bottom of suspicions that Iran may have worked on designing a nuclear warhead, even as world powers and Tehran pursue broader diplomacy to settle a decade-old dispute over its atomic aims.
The silvery-grey soft metal polonium gained notoriety eight years ago in the poisoning of a former Russian spy, Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, in London. The interest of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based UN agency, stems from its potential role in atomic arms.