Thursday, September 15, 2005

Iran is concealing many of its nuclear facilities from international controls and the activities show it is seeking nuclear weapons, according to a U.S. government report.

The computer slide presentation developed by the Energy Department for the International Atomic Energy Agency also shows that Iran’s nuclear program closely resembles Pakistan’s nuclear arms programs.

“Iran’s past history of concealment and deception and nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure are most consistent with an intent to acquire nuclear weapons,” the report said.

The report, first made public Wednesday by ABC News, states that Iran has a “confirmed record of hiding sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities from the IAEA.”

The presentation contains numerous photographs, including satellite imagery, showing that Iran built “dummy buildings” to hide an underground vehicle entrance and ventilator shafts at its Natanz facility.

Iran has violated IAEA safeguards and provided false information about centrifuge development, plutonium experiments and military involvement in nuclear activity, the 43-page report stated.

The presentation was shown recently at the U.S. mission to the IAEA in Vienna at a briefing for IAEA representatives. It was produced by the Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

Seven of Iran’s 13 nuclear-related facilities were kept secret until 2002, including enrichment plants at Lashkar-Abad, Tehran, Natanz, and uranium processing at Adrekan and Gachin, the report said.

“Iran’s nuclear program is well-scaled for a weapons capability, as a comparison to [Pakistan’s] nuclear weapons infrastructure shows,” the report said. “When one also considers Iran’s concealment and deception activities, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.”

The Bush administration is pressing the IAEA to refer the issue of Iran’s covert nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, after months of diplomatic efforts by the governments of Britain, France and Germany have produced few results.

The United Nations could then impose economic sanctions against Iran or possibly a future authorization for the use of force.

The report states that Iran’s uranium ore resources are insufficient for Tehran to produce enough fuel for civilian electrical power generating reactors.

“However, Iran’s uranium resources are more than sufficient to support a nuclear weapons capability,” the report said.

For example, Iran’s Gachin uranium ore mine is producing about 21 tons of ore annually, enough to produce about four nuclear bombs per year, the report said.

Satellite photographs included in the report show that Iran’s gas centrifuge facility and its heavy water plants closely resemble nuclear plants in Pakistan. The report does not identify the country as Pakistan, but U.S. officials said the photographs show Pakistani nuclear infrastructure.

The report also includes a comparison of nuclear weapons delivery vehicles and shows how Iran’s Shahab-3 missile closely resembles Pakistan’s Ghauri missile. Both have a range of up to 930 miles. Both are based on North Korea’s No-Dong missile.

The report notes that the Shahab-3 can carry a warhead weighing up to 2,200 pounds, and the Ghauri can carry a 1,540-pound warhead.

The report said that after Iran was caught with an “extensive concealment and deception record,” the government in Tehran claimed that its nuclear program was for a peaceful nuclear fuel cycle.

However, the report said the lack of uranium ore reserves could not support nuclear power plants but “are well scaled to give Iran a significant number of nuclear weapons.”

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