View Full Version : Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Improved Enrichment

16 Sep 08,, 08:45
Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Improved Enrichment (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/16/world/middleeast/16iran.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin)

Published: September 15, 2008

PARIS — Iran has substantially improved the efficiency of its centrifuges that produce enriched uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday, indicating that the nation has overcome some of the technical challenges that had plagued its enrichment program.

In a six-page report, the agency charged the Iranians with continuing to stonewall about what some Western governments suspected was Iran’s past research on designing a nuclear weapon. The agency acknowledged that it had failed “to make any substantial progress” in its investigation.

“We seem to be at a dead end,” said a senior official with links to the agency. “We would describe it as a gridlock.”

The report is another setback to an agency initiative begun last summer that gave Iran fixed deadlines to resolve questions about nuclear activities in the past two decades and asked the United States and other countries for patience in pursuing new sanctions.

In another revelation, the agency said for the first time that a foreign expert or group of experts may have helped Iran with experiments on a detonator that could be used in the implosion of a nuclear weapon.

The report referred only to “foreign expertise” and did not specify its origin.

The official linked to the agency said a foreign government was not involved. He also ruled out the involvement of Libya and the remnants of the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani metallurgist who built the world’s largest black-market sales operation for nuclear technology.

A senior Western official said that North Korea, which has been accused of aiding Syria in building a nuclear reactor, was not involved.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic rules.

Iran, which has denied in the past that such activities took place, has been asked for an explanation of the issue.

The agency also criticized Iran for continuing to expand its uranium enrichment program in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Iran is now running about 3,800 centrifuges, the machines that make enriched uranium, an increase of several hundred in the past four months, the report said.

More significantly, it has increased the efficiency of its centrifuges to about 80 percent from about 50 percent, according to calculations based on the report’s figures. That means the machines are processing more material, crashing less and running closer to their stated capacity.

A benchmark of enrichment progress is when Iran accumulates enough low-enriched uranium to be able to produce weapon-grade uranium quickly enough for a nuclear weapon, according to an analysis of the report by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

American intelligence estimates have said the earliest Iran can produce enough material for a weapon is late 2009.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, like generating electricity. The report made clear that there had been no diversion of nuclear material for weapons purposes.

The agency’s report will be used by the United States, France and Britain in their push this fall in the Security Council for a new set of sanctions against Iran. Russia, which has signed big trade deals and enhanced its diplomatic relationship with Iran, is likely to resist the initiative.

Tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s intervention in Georgia, and what officials said was a lack of focus by the Bush administration in its final months in office, have also complicated efforts by the world powers to forge a common strategy toward Iran.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, and Nazila Fathi from Tehran.

16 Sep 08,, 13:55
At the first glance, it looked as if the thread was called "Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Improved it Cooperation",

upon inspection ...

16 Sep 08,, 17:45
At the first glance, it looked as if the thread was called "Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Improved it Cooperation",

upon inspection ...
My thoughts exactly. Very little coverage with bland headlines.....

17 Sep 08,, 04:17
IAEA shows photos alleging Iran nuclear missile work

VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog showed documents and photographs on Tuesday suggesting Iran secretly tried to modify a missile cone to fit a nuclear bomb, diplomats said, and Tehran again dismissed the findings as forged.

Iran said an International Atomic Energy Agency inquiry into its nuclear activity was at a dead-end because the IAEA was demanding Tehran reveal conventional military secrets without nuclear dimensions. Iran has denied seeking atom bombs.

The Vienna-based UN watchdog said in a report on Monday that Iranian stonewalling had brought an agency inquiry to resolve whether Tehran had covertly researched ways to make a nuclear bomb to a standstill.

Britain has accused Iran of showing contempt for the UN watchdog and, with the United States and France, vowed to seek harsher sanctions on Tehran over its defiance of UN demands for full disclosure and a suspension of uranium enrichment.

The IAEA wants Iran to clarify intelligence material pointing to links between Iranian projects to process uranium, test high explosives and modify the cone of its long-distance Shahab-3 missile in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead.

The Islamic Republic has denied the allegations but the IAEA says Iran must substantiate its position by granting access to sites, documents and relevant officials for interviews.

Herman Naeckerts, the agency's head of inspections in the Middle East region, briefed its governing board on the report's findings on Tuesday ahead of a meeting by the 35-nation body next week likely to heighten pressure on Iran to cooperate.

Washington's IAEA envoy said Naeckerts presented photos and diagrams of Iranian work on re-designing a Shabab-3 "to carry what would appear to be a nuclear weapon."

‘Very credible’

"The (IAEA) Secretariat told us the information they have is in their words, 'very credible', unquote, and they have asked Iran to provide 'substantive responses', unquote," Ambassador Gregory Schulte told reporters.

He said Naeckerts told the closed meeting Iran had refused IAEA requests to interview engineers involved in the work and visit their ostensibly civilian workshops, depicted in photos.

Other diplomats in the meeting said Naeckerts emphasized the information remained unverified. "His presentation was professional and balanced," one said, asking for anonymity.

Another diplomat said some countries on the board questioned the IAEA's mandate to judge intelligence data related to ballistic missiles and high explosives.

Iran repeated that the intelligence was forged or pertained only to conventional arms. It said Iran faced extraordinary and unacceptable pressure to prove unverified allegations was wrong by revealing information vital to its national security.

"No country would give information about its conventional military activities," Iran's IAEA ambassador said.

"I said in this briefing, 'Who in the world would believe there are a series of top secret documents U.S. intelligence found in a laptop regarding a Manhattan Project-type nuclear (bomb program) in Iran and none of these documents bore seals of 'high confidential' or 'secret'?" Ali Asghar Soltanieh said.

"This matter is over, as far as we are concerned."

Western concern was heightened by a revelation in the IAEA report that Iran may have had "foreign expertise" helping in experiments on a detonator applicable to an implosion-type nuclear blast occurring at high altitude.

Informed diplomats said the expertise appeared not to have been given by a government such as North Korea or any remnants of the ex-A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network that supplied Iran in the past, but by other non-state actors.

The IAEA has called for an explanation from Iran.