VIENNA — Egypt fears being grouped with the likes of Iran and Syria if an UN investigation into traces of highly enriched uranium found in the country isn't brought to a swift end, according to what officials described this week as a confidential report from the country's nuclear agency.
The particles — enriched close to the levels required to arm nuclear missiles — have been under investigation since being detected by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2007 and 2008. Egypt, a US ally in the Middle East, has said the particles originated from abroad and were inadvertently imported, but the agency is unsatisfied with that answer.
The IAEA first disclosed that it was probing Egypt in May 2009, in a restricted report obtained by the AP. The reports said traces of low-enriched uranium also were found at the site — Inshas, northeast of Cairo, where Egypt's two small research reactors are located.
Both high- and low-enriched uranium can be used to make radio isotopes, which have applications in medicine and scientific research.
The latest report, shared in part with The Associated Press, seemed to reflect a growing sense that Yukiya Amano, who replaced Mohamed ElBaradei in December as IAEA chief, has less tolerance than his predecessor for nations under nuclear scrutiny that use delaying tactics to undermine investigations.