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The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has questioned Tehran about evidence that Iran has experimented with an advanced nuclear detonation technology. According to a new report by the Guardian, the technology would allow Iran to make smaller and simpler warheads than would be possible with first-generation nuclear weapons.
The Guardian writes that while Tehran has dismissed much of the IAEA's evidence of Iranian nuclear-weapon technology, it did admit that it has experimented with creating multiple, synchronized explosions of the kind that could trigger a nuclear device. The technology that the IAEA's documentation indicates Iran is testing would be a step beyond such experiments.
Iran claims that its experiments with synchronized explosions are for civilian uses only, but Western scientists say that there are no civilian applications for such technology.
News of Iran's possible advanced warhead experiments comes as talks between Iran and the West have appeared to have stalled. The Washington Post reports that a senior European diplomat says Iran has demanded immediate delivery of substitute nuclear fuel if it agrees to surrender its own uranium, but the West is insisting the original deal be followed.
The kind of simultaneous switch that Iran seeks would negate the whole point of the deal, IAEA head Mohamed Elbaradei told New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. The deal is meant to slow Iran's nuclear weapons research – by taking away the uranium they need to further it – so that a peace deal can be negotiated with Tehran.