Posted by: mulrickillion | November 9, 2011

UN watchdog reveals ‘serious concerns’ about Iranian nuclear weapons research

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A suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom in Iran. Photograph: Digital Globe/Reuters.

IAEA believes Iran tried to develop a secret source of uranium enrichment that would not be subject to checks

8 November 2011 — The UN’s nuclear watchdog has expressed "serious concerns" about research and development work by Iran, which the agency described as "specific to nuclear weapons".

In its report on Iran’s nuclear programme, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had accumulated more than 1,000 pages of documentation that led it to believe suspected nuclear weapons work was carried out under a "structured programme" until 2003, and that "some may still be ongoing".

"What is striking is the totality and breadth of the information. Virtually every component of warhead research has been pursued by Iran," said a source close to the IAEA last night. "The agency has very, very high confidence in its analysis. It did not want to make a mistake, and it was aware it had a very high threshold of credibility to meet. So it would not be published unless they had that high level of confidence."

Russia criticised the IAEA however, for releasing so much information, saying it would reduce hopes of a dialogue and could even be intended to scuttle a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Russia’s immediate and critical response indicated that the new report was unlikely to change Moscow’s mind over its opposition to new sanctions on Iran.

In its report the IAEA said its assessment was that Iran had been involved in an effort to develop a covert source of enrichment uranium, not subject to the agency’s monitoring and safeguards. The operation was known as the "green salt project", an alternative method of enrichment to the centrifuges used in IAEA-monitored facilities, which the agency said was intended "to provide a source of uranium suitable for use in an undisclosed enrichment programme".

The report said that over the past three years the UN inspectors had been able to confirm a link between the green salt project and a separate project to design a missile warhead.

The significance of the finding is that it points to the possibility of a covert, parallel programme to produce fissile material for a missile warhead, so that the efforts by the IAEA to monitor declared stockpiles of uranium ore and processed uranium would serve as a distraction for the international community, while the main effort to build a weapon was pursued an hidden, undeclared locations.

The IAEA report said this effort, known as the Amad plan, was stopped "rather abruptly" by Tehran in late 2003. Afterwards, however, the agency said it had information that "staff remained in place to record and document the achievements of their respective projects". . . .

UN watchdog reveals ‘serious concerns’ about Iranian nuclear weapons research | World news | guardian.co.uk

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