Tehran has enough information for bomb, NY Times reports

Iran has acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable" atom bomb, The New York Times has reported, citing a confidential analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency.


AFP - A confidential analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates that Iran has acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable" atom bomb, The New York Times reported late Saturday.

Citing unnamed European officials, the newspaper said the IAEA report stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.

But the report’s conclusions go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States, the paper said.

In 2007, US intelligence agencies announced that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.

A senior US official said last week that the United States was now re-evaluating its 2007 conclusions, The Times said.

The IAEA report also presents evidence that improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon, the paper said.

But the document does not say how far that work has progressed.

The IAEA report, titled "Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program," was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency, The Times said.

It draws a picture of a complex program, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, "aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system," which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe, according to the paper.

The program apparently began in early 2002.

But if Iran is really designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms, The Times said. Engineering studies would have to turn ideas into hardware. Finally, the hardest part would be enriching the uranium that could be used as nuclear fuel -- though experts say Iran has already mastered that task, the paper noted.

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