REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- The United Nations nuclear inspection agency has “serious concerns” about “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” according to a report released Tuesday.
Citing a thousand pages of documents, satellite photos and intelligence information from 10 member states, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has taken steps to develop a nuclear bomb, despite Iran’s contention that its program is entirely for civilian purposes.
“Credible ... information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device," the report says. “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 report says the activities included:
-- Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear-related and dual-use equipment and materials by military-related individuals and entities.
-- Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material.
-- The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network.
-- Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon, including the testing of components.
“This certainly gives more ammunition for those who are pushing for sanctions,” said a senior congressional aide who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. “I think it’s going to make it more difficult for Russia and China to resist. I hope it doesn’t prompt Israel to launch a military strike.”
Before the report was released, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the Islamic republic did not need a nuclear bomb to confront the U.S.
"If America wants to confront the Iranian nation, it will certainly regret the Iranian nation's response," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency. "They are saying that Iran is seeking the atomic bomb. But they should know ... we do not need a bomb. ... Rather we will act thoughtfully and with logic. History has shown that anyone acting against the Iranian nation regrets it."
Iran Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the U.S. and other Western nations have no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
"There is no serious proof that Iran is going to create a nuclear warhead," Salehi said during a visit to Armenia, according to AFP news agency. "The West and the United States are exerting pressure on Iran without serious arguments and proof. We have repeatedly stated that we are not going to create nuclear weapons."
-- Ken Dilanian
Photo: A picture from August 2010 shows the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, southern Iran. Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA