Iraq's small stock of highly enriched reactor fuel has not been diverted to build a nuclear weapon, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported yesterday. The announcement, which followed a technical examination of the Iraqi uranium by international experts, seemed likely to quash speculation that Baghdad might have built a nuclear explosive device using the reactor fuel.
The fuel, 27.6 pounds of 93-percent-pure uranium 235, was salvaged from Iraq's Osirak research reactor in 1981 after an Israeli air raid destroyed the reactor. Such a quantity could be made into a crude weapon with about the same power as the bomb that demolished Hiroshima.
But Iraq, under a treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, is obliged to make its highly enriched reactor fuel available for inspection.
"They found that all the highly enriched uranium stored by Iraq from the former Osirak reactor was where it should be," said Hans Meyer, the nuclear agency's spokesman.