- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Iran has carried out extensive development of nuclear weapons, including work on a warhead for its medium-range Shahab-3 missile and preparations for an underground test, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in an internal report Tuesday.

The nuclear watchdog group stated that many aspects of Iran’s secret weapons development went on past the 2003 date that U.S. intelligence agencies claimed in an assessment four years ago that Iran had halted all nuclear arms work. The report said information it received indicates the weapons program is continuing, and it called on Iran to explain the covert activities.

The 25-page report provides the most extensive listing to date of what the nuclear agency said in the past were unanswered questions about the military aspects of Iran’s “nuclear explosive-device” development program.

Iran has been working on research and development to build a nuclear weapon,” said a Western diplomat in Vienna, Austria, who commented on the report.

The report provides “a good level of detail to explain why the IAEA is concerned that Iran has engaged in secret nuclear activities related to the development of a nuclear weapon,” the diplomat said.

The report was disclosed as Israel’s government continued to signal its readiness to take military action against Iran to try to neutralize the weapons program.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Israel has not ruled out the military option. He told Israel Radio that he did not think additional U.N. sanctions on Iran will dissuade Tehran from ignoring its obligation to declare fully all nuclear activities.

News reports from Israel indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taking steps in recent weeks to shore up support within his Cabinet for military action.

The IAEA said Iranian activities of concern include the procurement of nuclear-related and dual civilian-military use equipment and materials, efforts to create a covert nuclear-material production system, the acquisition of data and documents on nuclear arms development through clandestine supplier networks, and “work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components.”

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the report is a sign that responsible nations need to take decisive action to stop Iran’s arms program.

“We are close to running out of time,” she said. “And yet, for years, successive administrations have refused to fully implement the [anti-Iran] laws already on the books.”

In Tehran, the state-controlled IRNA news agency criticized the IAEA report for what it said are “worthless comments and pictures” provided by intelligence services.

The IAEA, the Vienna-based nuclear-monitoring group, identified some of the Iranian military nuclear activities in earlier reports.

However, the report, dated Nov. 8 and labeled “restricted,” includes an annex on the arms effort with charts showing specific Iranian nuclear organizations and government departments involved in the program after 2003.

According to the report, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran’s government ordered work stopped on its nuclear arms program code-named the AMAD Plan.

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