IAEA report on Iran: 'serious concerns' about nuclear program
The UN nuclear watchdog says Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment and refused to resolve questions about possible nuclear weapons-related work. But the IAEA also found Iran had overstated its claims of progress.
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US military officials' testimony
Top US military and intelligence officials have testified in recent weeks that they have no evidence that Iran is seeking to make nuclear weapons, nor that Iran has any intention of initiating or provoking a conflict.Skip to next paragraph
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But most analysts agree that Iran is already on the verge of achieving a nuclear-weapons capability, and if it chose to, could build a deliverable weapon within two to three years.
US strategic planners worry that the under-mountain Fordow site may be impervious to the 50,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator – the largest non-nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. The US is now reportedly spending money to upgrade the weapon.
Iran has yet to agree on a framework for resolving questions about "possible military dimensions" of its past work that the IAEA said in its report are "assessed by the Agency to be, overall, credible."
What the last IAEA report said
The IAEA detailed the intelligence it had on several alleged weapons-related programs in the annex of its latest report last November, sparking a firestorm of alarm. The report also said, however, that Iran's "structured" weapons-related efforts were halted in 2003, though "some continued after 2003; and ... some may still be ongoing."
The IAEA report today shed some more light on two visits by top-level IAEA teams to Iran in the past month, which ended in failure and a terse statement this week from Mr. Amano expressing disappointment.
Iran has dismissed the IAEA data as fabrications. Despite a promise from the Iranian foreign minister that "questions will be answered," none were.
The result was an "intensive discussion" between the IAEA and Iran this week, the report states, but "no agreement was reached ... as major differences existed with respect to the approach."
Iran has accused the IAEA of leaking information about its scientists to hostile intelligence agencies, leading to their murders. The IAEA report noted that a key part of the discussions about access to the Parchin military base and nuclear scientists were in regard to "Iran's security concerns, ensuring confidentiality and ensuring that Iran's cooperation included provision of access [to all] documentation, sites, material and personnel in Iran."
Access to Parchin – requested because of new information the IAEA says it has about an explosives testing site there – was twice denied in the past month, though inspectors made two restricted but uneventful visits years ago.
Perhaps the least expected fact in the IAEA report? Progress by Iran on making the 20 percent enriched fuel plates necessary for the small Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), given by the US to Iran in the 1960s to make medical isotopes, which is running out of fuel.
Iran declared it had begun to use such fuel plates in mid-February, just days after the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. For two years experts have suggested that only two countries – France and Argentina – were these days able to commercially make the specialty fuel.
The IAEA verified that Iran had made one such fuel plate, and a fuel assembly of 14 more fuel plates, but only to test for the TRR – and in the process outstripped the IAEA's safeguard mechanism.
"Notwithstanding the absence of the safeguards approach," the IAEA wrote, "it proved possible on this occasion ... for the Agency to account for all the nuclear material ... in the fuel manufacturing line."