U.N. agency discovers Iranian work on nuclear bomb


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.N. nuclear agency said it has extensive evidence that Iran has tried or is trying to develop a nuclear warhead.

The announcement Thursday in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is the first disclosure by the watchdog group that it has concrete evidence Iran is hiding its past or current work on a nuclear bomb that could fit atop a missile. The agency also slammed Tehran for its continued non-cooperation with international nuclear weapons inspectors.

"Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," the IAEA said in its report.

In specifying that Iranian work on a nuclear weapon went beyond 2004, the report contradicts a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had been working on a nuclear weapon but halted that work in 2003. The United States reportedly is preparing a new National Intelligence Estimate that will portray Iran is more aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran continues to enrich uranium and has announced plans to substantively expand enrichment.

In its report Thursday, the IAEA said the Islamic Republic will not allow inspectors access to heavy water activities — heavy water is used in nuclear reactors — and has not sufficiently explained possible military activities, such as exploding high-powered detonators, that could be used in making a nuclear device.

The report comes as the United States and Europe are pressing the U.N. Security Council to pass a new set of sanctions targeting Iran’s leadership as part of an effort to force it to comply with international inspectors.

It also said that uranium particles found by the IAEA in Syria show that a site bombed by Israel in 2007 could have been a nuclear reactor.

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