UN nuke chief to publish new Iran intel

2011-09-12 21:13

Vienna - The head of the UN nuclear agency on Monday announced plans to publish new information backing up his belief that Iran may be working on a nuclear warhead - developments that leave his organisation "increasingly concerned".

The comments by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano were significant because it was the first time he revealed plans to release some of the most recent knowledge available to the IAEA leading to such worries.

A diplomat familiar with IAEA affairs said Amano would seek permission from the agency members providing intelligence on the alleged warhead experiments before sharing them with the agency's 35 board member nations.

Such new information would likely be detailed in the next report on Iran's nuclear activities in November or could be shared with board members at a special closed session.

The diplomat asked for anonymity in exchange for divulging confidential information.

Israel, the United States and Washington's western allies have traditionally been the source of most of such intelligence. But Amano last month spoke of "many member states" providing evidence for his assessment and described the information as credible, "extensive and comprehensive."

Speaking at the start of a five-day meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board, Amano also reiterated that, despite Syrian denials, a target hit in 2007 by Israeli warplanes was a nearly completed nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium, which can be used to arm nuclear warheads.

At the same time, he announced that his staff would meet with Syrian officials next month to work out an "action plan" allowing Damascus to make good on promises to present new information on the site in its attempts to prove that the structure was a non-nuclear military facility.

He also had some positive words for Iran, saying it had demonstrated "greater transparency" than usual, in allowing a senior IAEA official to tour previously restricted nuclear sites last month.

At the same time, Amano urged the Islamic Republic to show more openness on other nuclear issues of concern. The agency, he said, "continues to receive new information" about Iranian attempts to develop a nuclear warhead, adding that he hoped "to set out in greater details the basis for the agency's concerns" in the near future.

Amano had already said he was "increasingly concerned" about possible warhead experiments by Iran in a report made available to The Associated Press earlier this month, when it was also shared with board members and the U.N. Security Council.

The phrase "increasingly concerned" - was also used by Amano in his remarks to the board on Monday. It has not appeared in previous reports discussing Iran's alleged nuclear weapons work and reflects the frustration felt by him over the lack of progress in his investigations.

In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said "many member states" are providing evidence for that assessment, describing the information it is receiving as credible, "extensive and comprehensive".

The report also said Tehran had started installing equipment to enrich uranium at a new location - an underground bunker that is better protected from air attack than its present enrichment facilities.

Enrichment can produce both nuclear fuel and fissile warhead material, and Tehran - which says it wants only to produce fuel with the technology - is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze enrichment.

It also denies secretly experimenting with a nuclear weapons program and has blocked a four-year attempt by the IAEA to follow up on intelligence that it secretly designed blueprints linked to a nuclear payload on a missile, experimented with exploding a nuclear charge, and conducted work on other components of a weapons programme.

In a 2007 estimate, the US intelligence community said that while Iran had worked on a weapons program such activities appeared to have ceased in 2003.

But diplomats say a later intelligence summary avoided such specifics, and recent IAEA reports on the topic have expressed growing unease that such activities may be continuing.

  • ErrolNdevu - 2011-09-12 21:32

    wat n bank p03s!!!

  • meelo - 2011-09-12 22:43

    the same fools told us there was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Afghan...

  • goldenmart - 2011-09-13 07:16

    Dear Middle East If you have oil,we will invade you in the next few years. Pick any excuse out of the list 1. Terrorism 2. Weapons of max distruction 3. Dictatorship Thank you and see you soon.

  • Libertadores - 2011-09-13 07:59

    Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he had not seen, quote, "a shred of evidence" that Iran was—has been weaponizing, in terms of "building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials." Were Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capacity, the purpose would be deterrent—presumably to ward off a U.S.-Israeli attack. Iran needs to develop nuclear weapons for her own strategic defense. The mainstream media has no interest in pointing out these irrefutable facts, because they would destroy the narrative of war with Iran. It is instead interested in one and only one subject: advancing the war narrative against Iran in exactly the same way that it sold George W. Bush's outrageous lies about Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and convinced the public that it should support the illegal -- many would say criminal -- invasion of Iraq. Otherwise all we will get is corporate interest driven "news" of the type that Murdoch uses to brainwash underachieving couch potatoes.

      betha - 2011-09-13 10:52

      "presumably to ward off a U.S.-Israeli attack" by Israeli attack you mean the repeated call of Iran for the total annihilation of Israel and the Jewish People"

      Libertador - 2011-09-13 16:19

      In an age dominated by the media-- internet, television, radio, and newspapers, the portrayal of Ahmadinejad is an artificial construct of the mainstream media.

  • pages:
  • 1