May 26, 2012 / 11:00 AM / 6 years ago

Iran plays down U.N. nuclear report

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has played down a United Nations report that said Iranian nuclear scientists had enriched uranium to a higher-than-expected level, state media reported on Saturday.

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that samples taken in February showed particles with enrichment levels of up to 27 percent - putting Iran further down the road to making potentially weapons-grade uranium.

“This matter is a routine technical discussion that is currently being reviewed by experts,” IRNA quoted Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying.

He said paying attention to such details in Western media appeared to be an attempt to undermine the constructive relationship between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The IAEA report said it was assessing Iran’s explanation that the traces of high-enriched uranium resulted from technical factors. The sample came from Iran’s Fordow facility - buried deep beneath rock and soil to protect it from air strikes.

The report came a day after six world powers failed to convince Iran to halt its most sensitive nuclear work at talks in Baghdad, but agreed to further talks in Russia.

Western countries suspect Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. It denies that and demands an explicit confirmation of its right to enrich uranium for what it calls a peaceful nuclear program. It also seeks the lifting of Western sanctions.

Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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