Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 1 News List

IAEA says Iran has nuclear warhead designs

AP , VIENNA

The UN atomic agency revealed that Iran received black-market designs to encase weapons-grade uranium and diplomats said they appeared to be part of blueprints for a nuclear warhead.

A senior US diplomat called the find disturbing and other diplomats accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said they expected the US and its allies to use it in their push to have Tehran referred to the UN Security Council as early as next week.

"You've given the world cause for concern," US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said in Washington. "The international community doesn't like what it sees."

The revelations came on Friday as Iran said it had begun converting a second batch of uranium into gas, a step that brings it closer to producing the enriched uranium used to either generate electricity or build bombs.

The EU, with US support, has been calling on Iran to reimpose a freeze on conversion since August. But the nation's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told state TV the country had started converting a second batch of uranium.

"This job is done and the plant is continuing its activity," Larijani said in the interview recorded on Thursday and broadcast on Friday.

The IAEA said on Friday that Iran received the detailed designs from the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. His network supplied Libya with information for its nuclear weapons program that included an engineer's drawing of an atomic bomb.

The document given to Iran in 1987 showed how to cast "enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms," said a confidential IAEA report. IAEA officials refused to comment on the implications of the finding.

But diplomats close to the agency said it appeared to be a design for the core of a nuclear warhead. The report said Iran insisted it had not asked for the designs but was given them anyway by members of the nuclear network -- something a senior official close to the agency said the IAEA was still investigating.

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