Sun, Feb 27, 2011 - Page 5 News List

UN claims new info on alleged Iran nuclear arms

AP, VIENNA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says “recently received” information is adding to concerns Iran may have worked on developing nuclear arms.

At the same time, a report by the IAEA said that Tehran continues to stonewall its attempts to follow up on that information, which points to possible experiments with components of a nuclear arms program.

The report also said conversion work of uranium ore to the gas from which enriched uranium is made remained idle for the 18th month, indicating a possible shortage of the raw material on which Tehran’s nuclear program is built.

A new intelligence report from an IAEA member country says Iran is expanding its covert global search for raw uranium. It divulged a secret visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Akbar Salehi last month to uranium-rich Zimbabwe in search of the metal.

An annex to Friday’s confidential IAEA report listed “the outstanding issues which give rise to concern about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” It included design work on a nuclear payload; experiments with -explosives that could detonate such a payload and other work that could be linked to making weapons.

The list contained no new information, with much of its content based on material that first surfaced seven years ago on a laptop US intelligence agencies say was spirited out of Iran by a defector.

New intelligence continues to come in to the agency strengthening those suspicions, despite Tehran’s stonewalling, said the report.

“Based on the agency’s analysis of additional information since August 2008, including new -information recently received, there are further concerns which the agency also needs to clarify with Iran,” said the report, which was also sent to the UN Security Council.

Tehran is under four sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to stop uranium enrichment — which can create both nuclear fuel and fissile warhead material — and other instances of nuclear defiance.

Iran insists its program is peaceful and meant only to power a future generation of reactors.

Enrichment work was stopped for a day in November, apparently by a Stuxnet virus attack suspected to have come from Israel or the US.

Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium nonetheless has grown from more than 400 kg in October to 3,610kg now. That is more than enough for two simple nuclear weapons, should Tehran decide to enrich to higher, weapons grade levels, and indicates that the cyber attack setback was temporary.

While the report did not specify how recent its new information was on possible weapons programs experiments, the senior international official said the agency received fresh intelligence within the last three months. He asked for anonymity because his information was confidential.

“Iran is not implementing a number of its obligations including ... clarification of the remaining outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program,” the report said.

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the Agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

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