U.N. says Iran holds illicit nuke document
VIENNA, Austria - A document obtained by Iran on the nuclear black market serves no other purpose than to make an atomic bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday.
The finding was made in a report prepared for presentation to the 35-nation IAEA board when it meets, starting Thursday, on whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose economic and political sanctions on Iran.
The report was made available in full to The Associated Press.
First mention of the documents was made late last year in a longer IAEA report. At that time, the agency said only that the papers showed how to cast "enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms."
The agency refused to make a judgment on what possible uses such casts would have. But diplomats familiar with the probe into Iran's nuclear program said then that the papers apparently were instructions on how to mold highly enriched grade uranium into the core of warheads.
In the brief report obtained Tuesday, however, the agency said bluntly that the 15-page document showing how to cast fissile uranium into metal was "related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components."
Asked about the finding, a senior diplomat close to the IAEA declined to elaborate but emphasized that the documents had no other use.
The report said the document was under agency seal, meaning that IAEA experts were able in theory to re-examine it, but "Iran has declined a request to provide the agency with a copy."
Diplomats familiar with the IAEA investigation of Iran said earlier Tuesday that part of the document recently was given to the agency in an effort to deflect building international momentum to report Iran to the Security Council. But the report did not mention Tehran handing over any papers.
The document was given to Iran by members of the nuclear black market network, the IAEA said. Iran has claimed it did not ask for the document but was given it anyway as part of other black market purchases.
The same network provided Libya with drawings of a crude nuclear bomb which that country handed over to the IAEA as part of its 2003 decision to scrap its atomic weapons program.
Separately, U.S. intelligence - revealed last year, based on information found on a laptop computer reportedly smuggled out of Iran - suggested that Tehran's scientists were working on details of nuclear weapons, including missile trajectories and ideal altitudes for exploding warheads.
The diplomats said the United States recently declassified the information and passed it on to the IAEA, which, in turn, forwarded it to Iran and asked for an explanation. Washington's cooperation with the agency was part of its attempt to prove that Iran was interested in making weapons, said one of the diplomats who is familiar with the IAEA investigation.
The developments were revealed just hours after a surprising agreement by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to advise that Iran be hauled before the powerful body over its disputed nuclear program.
The group agreed that the IAEA "should report to the Security Council its decision on the steps required of Iran, and should also report to the Security Council all IAEA reports and resolutions as adopted relating to this issue."
China and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners of Iran, agreed to a statement that calls on the IAEA to transfer the Iran dossier to the Security Council - the start of a protracted process that could end in sanctions for Tehran.
The IAEA's 35-nation board meets in Vienna on Thursday. Diplomats accredited to the agency said that with opinion leaders Russia and China on board, most - maybe all - of the board nations would likely approve Security Council involvement. Past referral attempts had run into stiff opposition from some influential board members.