The U.N. nuclear watchdog said Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose can only be the development of nuclear arms.
“After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the agency finds the information to be, overall, credible.”
“This information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
“The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing,” the IAEA added.
“Given the concerns identified above, Iran is requested to engage substantively with the agency without delay for the purpose of providing clarifications.”
The Vienna-based agency said some of its more than 1,000 pages of information indicated Iran has done work “on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components.”
Iran rejected the IAEA report as unbalanced, unprofessional and politically motivated, the official Fars new agency said on Tuesday.
Previous IAEA assessments have centered on Iran’s efforts to produce fissile material – uranium and plutonium –which can be put to peaceful uses like power generation, or be used to make a nuclear bomb.
But the new update focuses on Iran’s alleged efforts towards putting the radioactive material in a warhead and developing missiles.
It comes amid rising speculation that Israel might launch a pre-emptive military strike in an attempt to knock out its arch foe’s nuclear facilities.
Iran, which says its nuclear program is peaceful and which has been hit by four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, dismissed the new IAEA report prior to its publication, saying it was based on falsified information.
Russia and China had meanwhile pressured the IAEA not to even publish the report, diplomats said, and as a result it is unclear what action the agency’s board will take when it meets next week.
Russia, U.S. responses
It said time was needed to study the report and determine whether it contained new evidence of a military element in Iran’s nuclear program or was nothing but “the intentional – and counterproductive – whipping up of emotions.”
Turning to reports that Iran received assistance form a former Soviet weapons scientist to overcome technical hurdles in mastering the critical steps needed to build nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Russia had long ago provided the IAEA with “all the necessary clarifications” on the issue and that recent reports contained nothing new.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Tuesday that Israeli threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program were “extremely dangerous rhetoric” that could result in a “catastrophe.”
A U.S. official said the United States will likely increase sanctions on Tehran after the IAEA report, according to Reuters. The official said, however, that targeting Iranian Central Bank was not on the U.S agenda and that sanctioning Iran’s oil and gas sector was very sensitive.
“I don’t think we are there yet,” the official said.