“ElBaradei has long been reluctant to adopt a confrontational strategy on Iran, an approach he sees as counterproductive.” Sure, and the alternative has worked so well this far — mostly for Iran.
Senior staff members of the United Nations nuclear agency have concluded in a confidential analysis that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb.
The report by experts in the International Atomic Energy Agency stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations.
But the report’s conclusions, described by senior European officials, go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States.
Two years ago, American intelligence agencies published a detailed report concluding that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.
A senior American official said last week that the United States was now re-evaluating its 2007 conclusions.
The atomic agency’s report also presents evidence that beyond improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon. It does not say how far that work has progressed.
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. Engineering studies would have to turn ideas into hardware. Finally, the hardest part would be enriching the uranium that could be used as nuclear fuel — though experts say Iran has already mastered that task.
While the analysis represents the judgment of the nuclear agency’s senior staff, a struggle has erupted in recent months over whether to make it public. The dispute pits the agency’s departing director, Mohamed ElBaradei, against his own staff and against foreign governments eager to intensify pressure on Iran.
Dr. ElBaradei has long been reluctant to adopt a confrontational strategy on Iran, an approach he sees as counterproductive. Responding to calls for the report’s release, he has raised doubts about its completeness and reliability….