Iran has data to make nukes: Report

The report by experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.
But the report’s conclusions, described by European officials, go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the US.

Two years ago, American intelligence agencies published a detailed report concluding that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.

A senior American official said last week that the US was now re-evaluating its 2007 conclusions.

Extensive research

The atomic agency’s report also presents evidence that beyond improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon.

The report, titled ‘Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Programme’, was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency.

It draws a picture of a complex programme, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defence, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system,” Iran’s medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe.

If Iran is designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms. Experts say Iran has already mastered the hardest part, enriching the uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel.

While the analysis represents the judgment of the nuclear agency’s senior staff, a struggle has erupted in recent months over whether to make it public. The dispute pits the agency’s departing director, Mohamed ElBaradei, against his own staff and against foreign governments’ eager to intensify pressure on Iran.

ElBaradei has long been reluctant to adopt a confrontational strategy with Iran, an approach he considers counterproductive.

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