IAEA: ‘Credible’ Information Iran Worked on Nuclear Weapon Design

Posted November 8th, 2011 at 5:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has “credible” information that Iran has engaged in activities aimed toward the development of nuclear weapons.

In a report released in Vienna Tuesday, the U.N. agency expressed “serious concern” about the information, which it says “indicates” that Iran has worked on a nuclear weapon design, including the “testing of components.”

The United States said the report confirms U.S. concerns and said it may lead the U.S. to impose additional sanctions against Iran.

The report contains the U.N. agency's strongest and most detailed allegations yet of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. Iran's Fars news agency says Iranian ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh rejected the report as “unbalanced” and “politically-motivated.” Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is aimed at the peaceful generation of energy.

The IAEA report says Iran appears to have carried out nuclear weapons-related activities as part of a “structured” program prior to 2003. It says Iran may still be engaged in relevant research. The IAEA based the report on intelligence forwarded by some member states and material gathered by the agency itself.

Russia criticized the IAEA for distributing the report to the agency's 35-nation governing board. In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said the move appears intended to prevent a diplomatic solution to the dispute at a time when there is a chance of renewed talks between Iran and world powers.

White House officials said Tuesday the IAEA's report is “yet another” indication of Iran's failure to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. The officials said nothing is “off the table” in terms of additional sanctions or other measures to pressure the Iranian government to comply with international agreements about nuclear weapons.

The U.S. officials said the report shows Iranian scientists have recently worked on high-speed detonators, and computer modeling looking at the behavior of nuclear weapons under different conditions. They also say the report showed work on a neutron initiator in 2006, saying the only application for such research is “to weaponize.”

The German foreign ministry said Monday that Berlin would call for “greater political and diplomatic pressure” on Tehran if the IAEA report confirmed Western suspicions about a military dimension to Iran's nuclear work.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran for failing to suspend sensitive nuclear activities that have both military and peaceful uses.