Iran’s Recent Nuclear Work Raises New Concerns at UN Watchdog

Iran’s nuclear program is raising new concerns at the United Nations atomic agency after inspectors received information showing work on weapons may have gone on longer than suspected.

The International Atomic Energy Agency “received further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities” that “may have continued until recently,” Director General Yukiya Amano said today in a statement in Vienna. The IAEA’s 35-member board convened for a one-week meeting.

The agency, which has been investigating alleged Iranian nuclear-weapons work since 2003, is assessing new data it received on high-explosive, electronic and missile warheads, it said in a May 24 report. Amano sent a June 3 letter to Iranian Vice President Fereydoun Abbasi reiterating the IAEA’s desire to gain access to suspected sites and speak with scientists.

The 2011 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had “high confidence’’ that the country hasn’t decided to proceed with a nuclear weapon, 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 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.

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.

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