Nuke program til ’09: Iran Worked Weapons Until
Published: December 4, 2015
Nuke program til ’09: Iran Worked Weapons Until, Iran was actively designing a nuclear weapon until 2009, more recently than the United States and other Western intelligence agencies have publicly acknowledged, according to a final report by the United Nations nuclear inspection agency.
The report, based on partial answers Iran provided after reaching its nuclear accord with the West in July, concluded that Tehran conducted “computer modeling of a nuclear explosive device” before 2004. It then resumed the efforts during President Bush’s second term and continued them into President Obama’s first year in office.
But while the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed a long list of experiments Iran had conducted that were “relevant to a nuclear explosive device,” it found no evidence that the effort succeeded in developing a complete blueprint for a bomb.
In part, that may have been because Iran refused to answer several essential questions, and appeared to have destroyed potential evidence in others.
The completion of the report is one of the steps that Iran had to take – along with dismantling centrifuges and shipping nuclear fuel out of the country – before sanctions will be lifted under the nuclear deal.
Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, concluded this year that it was more important to secure a deal that will, if carried out fully, prevent Iran from gaining the material to build a bomb for at least 15 years than making it admit to past activities. So, the report’s publication allows the deal to go through, no matter how definitive or inconclusive the final result.
But Iran’s refusal to cooperate on central points could set a dangerous precedent as the United Nations agency tries to convince other countries with nuclear technology that they must fully answer queries to determine if they have a secret weapons program.
The agency’s bottom-line assessment was that Iran had made a “coordinated effort” to design and conduct tests on nuclear weapon components before 2003 – echoing a United States national intelligence estimate published in 2007 – and that it had conducted “some activities” thereafter.
“These activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies” and the acquisition of technical capabilities, the agency concluded. The efforts ended after 2009, or just as Mr. Obama was taking office and accelerating the sanctions and cybersabotage program against Iran’s nuclear facilities that ultimately brought Iranian officials to the negotiating table.
Tehran gave no substantive answers to one quarter of the dozen specific questions or documents it was asked about, leaving open the question of how much progress it had made.
The report, titled “Final Assessment of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program,” will not satisfy either critics of the nuclear deal or those seeking exoneration for Iran. Instead, it draws a picture of a nation that was actively exploring the technologies, testing and components that would be needed to produce a weapon someday. However, it does not come to a conclusion about how successful that effort was.
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