Wednesday, 9 November 2011

UN says Iran's studying nuclear weapons

According to a report by UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Iran has carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device". The report also suggests that Iran has conducted research on computer models that could only be used to develop a nuclear bomb trigger. IAEA's latest report on Iran is thought to be its toughest yet.

The Islamic Republic has said the findings were politically motivated. Speaking about the issue, Iran's envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said: "This report is unbalanced, unprofessional and prepared with political motivation and under political pressure by mostly the United States.”

Iran continues to maintain that its nuclear programme is designed solely for the purpose of civilian power generation. The report, however, suggests that Iran has carried out activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device" but it does not specify whether or not Iran is building one.

The report comprises Iran's secret activities including conducting computer modelling, developing a detonator and testing high explosives. It suggest that some of its activities are only applicable to nuclear weapons research.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has continually dismissed the IAEA as a mouthpiece for the US, and his government was quick to condemn the report as baseless.

The report also states: "The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured programme. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing."

IAEA says the report is “credible” and the information is gathered from reliable sources. It also encourages Iran "to engage substantively with the agency without delay for the purpose of providing clarifications."

It is thought that Iran is at least one year away from being able to produce a nuclear bomb and if need be do so on short notice.

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

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