Philadelphia Inquirer December 22, 2004 Loophole Lets Iran Process Uranium Tehran could still produce nuclear weapons with the materials it's converting, a diplomat said. By George Jahn, Associated Press VIENNA, Austria - Iran is still converting uranium in a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons as it exploits a loophole in a recent deal it made to freeze such activities, diplomats said yesterday. Iran is turning tons of raw uranium into uranium metal and has said it would continue to do so until February, the diplomats said. The metal is a precursor of uranium hexafluoride, a substance that can then be used to produce weapons-grade uranium. Iran agreed last month to stop enriching uranium and all related activities while it negotiates with France, Germany and Britain on the terms of a long-term deal to provide the country with technological help in creating a peaceful nuclear program and other forms of aid. A senior diplomat familiar with Iran's nuclear dossier said the country was converting raw "yellowcake" uranium already in the pipeline into uranium metal. The diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Tehran's activity was allowed under the terms of the agreement reached between the Europeans and Tehran, which permits Iran to process into a "stable state" all of the 37 tons of yellowcake that was already being converted when the deal was struck. A diplomat from the European Union, which was also party to the deal, said the Europeans were reserving judgment on Iran's move but it appeared not to be in violation of the suspension agreement.