The IAEA has received new and significant intelligence over the past month that indicated Iran has moved closer towards the ability to build a nuclear weapon, diplomats have told The Associated Press.
The diplomats, speaking to AP, noted that the intelligence showed Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years.
The time frame is significant because if the IAEA decides that the intelligence is credible, it would strengthen the agency’s concerns that Iran has continued weapons work in the recent past — and may be continuing to do so.
As computer-modelling work is normally accompanied by physical tests of the components that go into nuclear weapons, it would also support IAEA fears, outlined in a November report, that Tehran is advancing its weapons’ research on multiple fronts.
‘You want to have a theoretical understanding of the working of a nuclear weapon that is then related to the experiments you do on the various components,’ said David Albright, an expert at Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. ‘The two go hand-in-hand.’ Albright added that computer-run modelling is ‘critical to the development of a nuclear weapon.’
Such computer mock-ups typically assess how high explosives compress fissile warhead material, setting off the chain reaction that results in a nuclear explosion.
The IAEA’s spokeswoman, Gill Tudor, said the agency had no comment. However, two of the six diplomats who spoke to AP said the new information builds on what the agency previously knew, not only because the research was apparently performed past 2009 but also because it reflects that Iran has allegedly moved closer to the overall ability to develop a nuclear weapon.
The IAEA first outlined its suspicions in November, that Iran was working on calculating the yield of a nuclear weapon, as part of a 13-page summary of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons work that it said was based on more than 1,000 pages of research and intelligence from more than ten member nations.
It said then that ‘the modelling studies alleged to have been conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Iran … (are) of particular concern,’ adding that the purpose of such studies for calculating anything other than nuclear explosion yields is ‘unclear to the agency.’