- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2010

Iran is continuing to hide details about its current and past nuclear-weapons activities, including efforts to develop a nuclear missile warhead, according to a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agency, in a confidential report obtained by The Washington Times, concluded that Iran is continuing to produce highly enriched uranium at a plant at Natanz and continuing construction of a uranium plant at Qom.

This year alone, Iran has produced about 12.5 pounds of highly enriched uranium that analysts say could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA report was disclosed as the Obama administration presses ahead with new sanctions against Iran in the U.N. Security Council.

The restricted IAEA report by the agency’s director general, Yukiya Amano, repeated concerns about what it called the “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program and what Iran needed to do to resolve unanswered questions about it.

“Based on an overall analysis undertaken by the agency of all the information available to it, the agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities, involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” said the report, dated May 31.

“There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued beyond 2004,” the report said, contradicting the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate by U.S. intelligence agencies that stated Iran halted work on nuclear weapons in 2003.

According to the report, Iran’s government continues to refuse to answer questions about its nuclear arms program since August 2008, claiming accusations about the military program are groundless and based on forged documents provided to the IAEA.

The report concluded that Iran’s refusal to provide information on its past nuclear activities has prevented the agency from eliminating concerns about the weapons program.

“More specifically, Iran is not implementing the requirements contained in the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, including implementation of the Additional Protocol, which are essential to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of Iran’s nuclear program and to resolving outstanding questions,” the report said.

Specifically, “Iran needs to cooperate in clarifying outstanding issues, which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program,” it said.

The IAEA expressed concerns about Iran’s refusal to explain the military-related nuclear work.

“With the passage of time and the possible deterioration in the availability of information, it is essential that Iran engage with the agency on these issues, and that the agency be permitted to visit all relevant sites, have access to all relevant equipment and documentation, and be allowed to interview all relevant persons, without further delay,” the report said.

Uranium comes in two forms — uranium-238 and uranium-235. Almost all uranium found in nature is the former type, but only the latter is useful for making weapons. The enrichment process increases the percentage of uranium-235 in the mix. Uranium enriched to an 85 percent or higher share of uranium-235 is considered weapons grade, though weaker mixes are usable. The first U.S. nuclear weapon used 64 kilograms of uranium enriched to 80 percent.

The report noted that between February and May, Iran used centrifuges to enrich about 380 pounds of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride. On April 7, Iran withdrew 12.5 pounds of uranium enriched to almost 20 percent, the level at which uranium is considered highly enriched and can be used for a crude nuclear device, though not a reliable modern warhead.

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