Iran Nuclear Work Advances While UN Scrutinizes New Weapon Plans

Iran may have continued nuclear weapons work after 2004, according to new information shared with inspectors, the United Nations atomic watchdog said.

International Atomic Energy Agency investigators received documents from more than one country showing that Iran may have conducted work aimed at developing nuclear weapons in the years following 2004, the Vienna-based watchdog said today in a nine-page restricted report obtained by Bloomberg News. Inspectors are assessing high-explosive, electronic and missile warhead data.

“The agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” the report said.

The 2011 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had “high confidence’’ that the Persian Gulf country wasn’t pursuing nuclear weapons, James Clapper, President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, said at a March 10 Congressional hearing. A 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had stopped trying to make weapons in 2003.

Iran increased its supply of 20 percent enriched uranium to 56.7 kilograms (125 pounds) compared with 43.6 kilograms in February at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz, the Vienna-based IAEA said. Iran has produced 4,105 kilograms of uranium enriched to less than 5 percent compared with 3,606 kilograms in the last IAEA report.

Iran’s Nuclear Activities

“The agency’s knowledge about Iran’s enrichment activities continues to diminish,” the IAEA said. “The agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.”

Iran’s nuclear program has drawn four sets of UN sanctions sanctions because of concern that it is being used to develop weapons. Iran, with the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves, says it’s enriching uranium to fuel nuclear reactors.

The number of installed centrifuges that Iran uses to enrich uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants and construct atomic bombs, remained at 8,000 in the three months since the last report, the IAEA said.

About 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, if further purified, could yield the 15 to 22 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium needed by an expert bomb-maker to craft a weapon, according to the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, a non-governmental observer to the IAEA that is funded by European governments.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano will present the report’s findings to the UN nuclear agency’s 35-member board of governors when it convenes June 6 in the Austrian capital.

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