Iran actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability: IAEA

In the midst of Iranian nuclear enrichment efforts, the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) has released a new report, written by Director Yukiya Amano, on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program as it pertains to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1835. Some key elements of the report include:

• Iran’s continued refusal to suspend nuclear proliferation as required by the UN Security Council. In contrast, Tehran has increased efforts to enrich uranium (U-235) to 20%-enough to produce nuclear fuel rods for its research reactor. As of Feb. 19, 2010, Iran has stockpiled an additional 1,010 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU). Iran’s total of LEU is just over two tons, enough for two nuclear bombs if the uranium is enriched to 90%.

• The Islamic Republic’s refusal to respond to the IAEA’s requests regarding its past work to develop nuclear weapons capability. The report notes that Iran has refused to cooperate with the IAEA on this issue since late summer 2008.

• Iran’s noncompliance with IAEA inspection requests for the under-construction of the Arak reactor. Iran is required to suspend construction of this complex per several UNSC resolutions.

• The refining capacity of the Natanz facility has dropped from 4,000 centrifuges to 3,772 centrifuges. This is well under half of the total centrifuges installed at Natanz and may portend that the Iranians are having serious mechanical problems in keeping the centrifuges running cooperatively. Senior IAEA officials think that Tehran is shifting refining capacity to a new site at Fordo (near the holy city of Qom), to protect their nuclear infrastructure from foreign attack.

The IAEA’s conclusion in the report is that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. The report states that Tehran’s actions raise “concerns about the possible existence of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. These alleged activities consist of a number of projects and sub-projects, covering nuclear and missile related aspects, run by military related organizations.”

In response to the report, the U.S. State Department has released the following statement:

We once again urge Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment-related reprocessing, and heavy water-related activities, to make a full disclosure to the IAEA of all nuclear weapons activities, and to facilitate full IAEA verification of its nuclear program, including through the application of Additional Protocol measures, without delay.

As the Iranians move ahead with their nuclear enrichment capability, the impetus for strong sanctions, better inspections, and perhaps even military force increases by the day.

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