U.N.: Iran Working on Nuclear Weapons

Daily News Article   —   Posted on November 9, 2011

(from CBSNews.com) Vienna, AP – The U.N. nuclear [watchdog – the IAEA] said Tuesday for the first time that Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of nuclear arms.
The report is the strongest sign yet that Iran seeks to build a nuclear arsenal, despite claims to the contrary. With Israel threatening a military response, the report opens the way for a new confrontation between the West and Iran.
In its latest report on Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] outlines…its knowledge on the Islamic Republic’s…secret nuclear weapons work, including:
  • Clandestine procurement of equipment and design information needed to make such arms;
  • High explosives testing and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge;
  • Computer modeling of a core of a nuclear warhead;
  • Preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test, and
  • Developing and mounting a nuclear payload onto its Shahab 3 intermediate range missile — a weapon that can reach Israel, Iran’s arch foe.

Ahead of the report’s release, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned of a possible Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

He told Israel Radio that he did not expect any new U.N. sanctions on Tehran to persuade it to stop its nuclear defiance, adding:  “We continue to recommend to our friends in the world and to ourselves, not to take any option off the table.”

The “all options on the table” phrase is often used by Israeli politicians to mean a military assault, and Israeli government members have engaged in increased saber rattling recently suggesting that an attack was likely a more effective way to stop Iran’s nuclear program than continued diplomacy.

An official told the AP that the Israeli Cabinet spoke about the issue, with Defense Minister Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu partial towards taking action. In addition, an Israeli missile test has raised the possibility of a military action [by Israel].

While some of the suspected secret nuclear work outlined in the [IAEA’s report] could also be used for peaceful purposes, “others are specific to nuclear weapons,” said the confidential report obtained by The Associated Press.

Some of the information contained in the [report] was new — including evidence of a large metal chamber at a military site for nuclear-related explosives testing. The bulk, however, was a compilation and expansion of alleged work already partially revealed by the agency.

But a senior diplomat familiar with the report said its significance lay in its comprehensiveness, thereby reflecting that Iran apparently had engaged in all aspects of testing that were needed to develop such a weapon. Also significant was the [IAEA’s] decision to share most of what it knows or suspects about Iran’s secret work with the 35-nation IAEA board and the U.N. Security Council after being stonewalled [blocked] by Tehran [the Iranian government] in its attempts to probe such allegations.

Copies of the report went to board members and the council, which has imposed four sets of U.N. sanction on Tehran for refusing to stop activities that could be used to make a nuclear weapon and refusing to cooperate with IAEA attempts to fully understand its nuclear program.

The agency said the [report] was based on more than 1,000 pages of intelligence and other information forwarded by more than 10 nations and material gathered by the IAEA itself.

Associated Press. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from CBSNews.com.


NOTE TO STUDENTS: Before answering the questions, read the “Background” below the questions.

1.  What is the purpose of the IAEA?

2.  What did the IAEA’s new report conclude about Iran’s nuclear program?

3.  What makes the IAEA’s report significant, since a lot of the information in it has been reported previously?

4.  a) Why is the IAEA’s report a problem for Israel?
b)  How is the Israeli government reacting to the IAEA’s conclusion about Iran? Be specific.

5.  a) Define sanctions.
b)  Since learning about Iran’s secret nuclear program almost 10 years ago, what has the IAEA done to prevent Iran from moving forward?
c)  How effective have U.N. sanctions been in persuading Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons?

6.  Consider the “Background” below the questions, as well as the information found at the links in “Resources”.  What should the U.N./Israel do about Iran’s nuclear weapons program?

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  • Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs. [NOTE ON URANIUM ENRICHMENT:  Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation (buildup).]
  • Under the United Nations’ NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty – the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom).
  • Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the Treaty through inspections conducted by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
  • The IAEA issued a report on Sept. 15, 2008 that said Iran has repeatedly blocked an investigation into its nuclear program and the probe is now deadlocked.
  • The U.N. Security Council has already imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance. Despite the sanctions, Iran has refused to end its nuclear program.
  • A group of U.S. and Russian scientists said in a report issued in May 2009 that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that.
  • The Iranian government has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions. It is believed that once obtained, Iranian President Ahmadinejad would use nuclear weapons against Israel.


Go to worldatlas.com for a map of Iran and the Middle East.

Read previous articles about the Iranian government’s views at: