NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Article photo 1
The IAEA report released on Nov. 8 provides “credible” information that “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
Article photo 2
Iran recently inaugurated a plant for producing carbon fiber, which can be used in the manufacture of centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

Confirmed: Iran Developing Nuclear Weapons

Any doubts that Iran has been working to build a nuclear weapon have been put to rest by a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released this week. The long-awaited report – which one diplomat called “the most damning report ever published” by the agency – details a series of tests, acquisition of materials, and technology that suggests Tehran has long been working to produce a nuclear weapon.

Citing “credible” information that “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” the IAEA describes an elaborate and highly-organized program dedicated to acquiring the skills necessary to produce and test a nuclear weapon. The report expresses “particular concern” that Iran carried out computer modeling of nuclear explosions and conducted experiments on nuclear triggers in 2008 and 2009. In 2003, Iran is believed to have carried out at least one large scale experiment to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell, a key step in detonating a nuclear explosion.

“The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency,” the Vienna-based organization said.

The IAEA says that Iran has built a large explosives vessel at a military complex southeast of Tehran in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, which are “strong indicators of possible weapons development.” Iran is also alleged to have carried out studies on placing a nuclear payload on the Shahab-3 missile. Tehran has looked into the ability to detonate the payload in the air above a target, an option the IAEA concluded was only applicable to a nuclear weapon.

In addition to detailing the military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, the IAEA report highlights Tehran’s continuing efforts to boost enriched uranium production to weapons-grade levels. The report finds Iran has installed more than 400 centrifuges at its highly protected facility in Qom, which is burrowed deep into a mountain. Last month, Iran began moving nuclear material to the sight in preparation for starting production of higher enriched uranium. Iran also continues to install new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium six times faster than previous models.

The IAEA’s conclusions are based on information from more than ten countries. The agency has detailed satellite imagery, financial records and other documents demonstrating manufacturing techniques for certain high-explosive components. It also had discussions with a number of individuals directly involved in Iranian nuclear activities.

Analysts agree that there is no peaceful explanation for the IAEA findings. “The level of detail is unbelievable,” said a Western diplomat. “The report describes virtually all the steps to make a nuclear warhead and the progress Iran has achieved in each of those steps. It reads like a menu.” Director General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano said the agency had “tried without success to engage Iran in discussions about the information,” but that “Iran continued to conceal nuclear activities.”

Top lawmakers have urged a tough response to the report. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called the report “one more step toward what has become an inescapable conclusion: Iran is, in fact, building the capability to produce nuclear weapons.” The top Republican on Feinstein’s panel, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), called for “renewed urgency in dealing with Iran’s unrelenting nuclear ambition.” “The international community must step up its support and enforcement of a robust sanctions regime — or risk an unthinkable alternative,” said Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called the report “further proof that the U.S. and other responsible nations must take decisive action to stop the regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.” BACK TO TOP