New York, Nov 9: United Nations weapons inspectors have suggested that Iran "carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device" and that the project may still be under way, the New York Times reported quoting a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The long-awaited report, released by IAEA Tuesday, laid out the case that Iran had moved far beyond the blackboard to create computer models of nuclear explosions in 2008 and 2009 and conducted experiments on nuclear triggers, the daily said.
It said the simulations focused on how shock waves from conventional explosives could compress the spherical fuel at the core of a nuclear device, which starts the chain reaction that ends in nuclear explosion.
The report also said that Iran went beyond such theoretical studies to build a large containment vessel at its Parchin military base, starting in 2000, for testing the feasibility of such explosive compression. It called such tests "strong indicators of possible weapon development".
According to the Times, the inspectors agreed with a much-debated classified United States National Intelligence Estimate issued in 2007 that Iran had dismantled a highly focused effort to build a bomb in late 2003, but found significant recent work, though conducted in a less coordinated manner.
The report does not claim that Iran has mastered all the necessary technologies, or estimate how long it would take for Iran to be able to produce a nuclear weapon.
Inspectors do not point to a single weapons lab, or provide evidence of a fully constructed nuclear weapon.
Instead, the report describes roughly a dozen different projects that countries that have built nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India and Pakistan – all had to grapple with, in some form.
An IAEA report last May listed five fewer categories of such technical information, the Times said.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Yukiya Amano, the IAEA's head, a US puppet, saying that "they (the US officials) have appointed a man as the chief of the IAEA who has no authority", reported RIA Novosti.
UN nuclear watchdog's new report has triggered a new wave of threats from Israel since the senior members of the Israeli government backed the possibility of launching strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Israeli President Shimon Peres reiterated Sunday that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely.
Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said Iranian armed forces were in "full combat readiness and will give a crushing response to those daring to attack the country", Irna reported.
Earlier Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry expressed dismay that the IAEA report has become a source of increased tension surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.
It also questioned whether the IAEA was able ensure the appropriate confidentiality for its work, adding that the IAEA should be guided by the principle: "Do no harm."
Iranian President Ahmadinejad called on the IAEA to issue a report on the atomic arsenal of the US, the Fars news agency reported.
The IAEA should release reports on the US atomic bombs concealed in 1,000 of its military bases, said Ahmadinejad.
The agency should report on the US atomic weapons instead of releasing "unreal" reports on the civilian nuclear programme of "independent" countries like Iran, he said.
Ahmadinejad said the IAEA was a tool at the hands of a number of countries who want to control the world, according to Xinhua.
He said that "unfortunately" IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano has "violated the agency's rules" by repeating the words of the US, said Fars.
The IAEA director-general has urged Iran to cooperate with the agency to prove that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami has also said the US was using the IAEA as a "tool against Iran".
"The US is using international organisations, including the IAEA, as tools to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme," Khatami was quoted as saying. IANS