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Friday, May 30, 2008

'Alarming': IAEA obtains Iran blueprint for
nuclear warhead

LONDON — The International Atomic Energy Agency has briefed its members on Iran's blueprint of a nuclear warhead.

Western diplomats said the agency was given an Iranian government document that illustrated a technique to mold uranium metal into the shape of a warhead. They said the agency determined that the blueprint was genuine and demonstrated Iran's interest in nuclear weapons.

"IAEA professionals are convinced that Teheran, at the very least, wants to learn how to make nuclear warheads," a Western diplomat said. "The agency is not willing to say that this proves that Iran is actually making the warheads." On Thursday, the agency briefed member-states on the latest developments in Iran's nuclear program. IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen was quoted as terming the finding of the Iranian warhead blueprint "alarming."

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"Today's briefing showed strong reasons to suspect that Iran was working covertly and deceitfully at least until recently to build a bomb," U.S. delegate to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, said after the briefing. During his closed briefing, Heinonen said Iran must now prove to the agency that the Islamic state was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has dismissed the warhead blueprint as a fabrication. Over the last year, diplomats said, 10 members of the IAEA board of governors supplied intelligence information on Iran's nuclear program. They were said to have included Britain, France, Germany and the United States. The intelligence information has been included in the latest IAEA report on Iran, circulated to board members on May 26. The IAEA board was scheduled to discuss the report on June 2. Diplomats said the agency report cited Iranian government documents that discussed the production of high explosives that could be used to detonate an atomic bomb. Another document referred to an Iranian project to design a missile re-entry vehicle, a key component of any nuclear warhead. The latest report determined that Iran was operating 3,500 gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The agency said Iran could reach its goal to operate 6,000 centrifuges by July 2008. IAEA also determined that Iran was testing advanced centrifuges, said to be three times more productive than the Pakistan-designed P-1. The agency said only several advanced centrifuges entered the testing stage.
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