Fri, May 27, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Watchdog reveals evidence that Iran worked on nuclear trigger technology

NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

The world’s global nuclear inspection agency, frustrated by Iran’s refusal to answer questions, revealed for the first time on Tuesday that it possesses evidence that Tehran has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts said could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear weapon.

The disclosure by the International Atomic Energy Agency was buried inside a nine-page report on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. The agency did not say where evidence came from, nor did it provide many details about the allegations.

Statistics contained in the report also indicated that Iran has begun to recover from the effects of the Stuxnet computer virus, a weapon that first struck the country nearly two years ago in an apparent effort to cripple its production of nuclear fuel. Based on recent visits by inspectors, the agency concluded that Iran’s main production site at Natanz is now producing low-enriched uranium at rates slightly exceeding what it produced before being hit by the Stuxnet.

In a separate report on Syria, the agency also laid out a detailed case, for the first time, that the country was “very likely” building a secret nuclear reactor that should have been reported to the agency. The facility was bombed by Israel in September 2007, and Syria quickly bulldozed the site.

Although the CIA released photographs in 2008 of the reactor building, the agency’s inspectors were skeptical of any evidence provided by former US president George W. Bush’s administration. However, they have now come to the same conclusion that Washington came to nearly four years ago, and US officials said they plan to press the agency’s board of governors at its meeting next month to refer the issue to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

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