Traces of plutonium have been found in Egypt according to a United nations official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. However, the official was
quick to point out that further investigation is needed and it is not necessarily a violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
VIENNA, Austria - U.N. experts have found traces of plutonium near an Egyptian nuclear facility and are investigating whether it could be
weapons-related or simply a byproduct of the country's peaceful atomic activities, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned against assuming that Egypt might have contravened the Nonproliferation Treaty by trying to
separate plutonium, a substance used in nuclear weapons. The traces could be from a cracked research reactor fuel element or have other origins that
have nothing to do with weapons research, they said.
"From time to time, these things pop up in places they should not be at," said a diplomat familiar with the investigations of the Vienna-based
International Atomic Energy Agency. "Most of the time, there is a reasonable answer."
Still, he said IAEA experts were considering all scenarios that would explain the origin of the particles pending the completion of analysis of the
environmental samples in several European laboratories.
The diplomat said the IAEA's information was still too sketchy to firmly establish how old the plutonium traces were but suggested they appeared to
have been released into the environment no later than the 1980s.
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The material could have come from cracked fuel rod or other source. The information was limited at this time, but it was believed that the
plutonium had been released no later than the 1980’s
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