The New York Times reported Sunday that on his trip to Tehran this past weekend, IAEA Chief Mohamed El-Baradei spoke positively on Sunday saying “I see that we are shifting from confrontation into transparency and cooperation.”
In the Saturday edition of the Times on the other hand, David Sanger and William Broad reported that senior staff members of the UN nuclear agency “concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired ‘sufficient information to be able to design and produce.” The agency qualified its conclusions as “tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.”
“The report, titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency. It draws a picture of a complex program, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system,” Iran’s medium-range missile, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe. The program, according to the report, apparently began in early 2002.
If Iran is designing a warhead, that would represent only part of the complex process of making nuclear arms. Experts say Iran has already mastered the hardest part, enriching the uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel.”
There has been some divide over the Iranian nuclear program within the IAEA. El-Baradei has been criticized by Sanger and Broad as being “reluctant to adopt a more confrontational strategy with Iran.” Nonetheless as IAEA Chief, El-Baradei’s current position is that the alleged evidence of a weapons program is not conclusive as he has questioned its authenticity, completeness and reliability. He has stated there is “no concrete proof” of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
It was reported today that Iran has agreed to allow inspectors into its recently revealed nuclear facility near Qom on October 25 as part of ongoing talks with the P-5+1.