Iran has acknowledged that it obtained instructions on how to enrich uranium, which can used to make nuclear arms, from the black market network of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in a confidential report seen Friday by the Associated Press.
The International Atomic Energy Agency report also said Iran was not giving inspectors access to a sensitive site that could be used to store equipment indicating whether the military is running a secret nuclear program.
The five-page report was prepared for Thursday’s meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board, which could decide to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions for violating an international nuclear arms control treaty.
Most board nations are concerned that Iran has resumed uranium conversion — a precursor to enrichment — and has refused to meet all IAEA requests about a nuclear program that was clandestine for nearly 20 years until discovered three years ago.
Iran says it didn't ask for info
The report said Iran had handed over documents revealing detailed instructions on setting up uranium enrichment that it obtained from Khan's black market network. The scientist, considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, has acknowledged selling secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
The instructions show how to cast enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into a spherical form, the agency said. Diplomats accredited to the agency said that could indicate a design for the core of a nuclear weapon.
A U.N. diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity said Iran told the IAEA they had received the several-page document from individuals linked to the nuclear black market set up by Khan.
“The Iranians said they received the document without having requested it and never did anything with it,” the diplomat said.
Although this document shows how to make a vital part of an atomic weapon, there are many other parts it would need in order to produce an entire weapon, the diplomat added.
More honesty 'indispensable'
The IAEA report also said more transparency by Tehran was “indispensable and overdue” as agency inspectors try to determine if Iran’s military secretly ran its own nuclear program parallel to a civilian one.
Inspectors needed access both to more details on Iran’s enrichment activities and a site where it is believed to be warehousing equipment that could be used in a weapons program, the document said.
“There still remain issues to be resolved” in connection with whether the military was supplied with centrifuge technology in the mid-1990s and then conducted secret enrichment activities between 1995 and 2002, it said.
The report said the key outstanding issues concerning Iran’s nuclear program include whether the military was involved in enrichment, access to the military site where the “dual use” equipment was believed held and greater access to individuals involved in the enrichment program.
“Transparency measures should include the provision of information and documentation related to the procurement of dual-use equipment and permitting visits to relevant military-owned workshops and R&D locations thought run by the military,” the report said.
The agency is “still awaiting additional visits,” both to the military site at Lavisan-Shian, just outside Tehran, and to Parchin, which IAEA inspectors visited for the second time a few weeks ago.
“These should include interviews on the acquisition of certain dual-use materials and equipment, and the taking of environmental samples from the above locations,” the IAEA said.
The United States and European Union suspect Iran is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. Tehran denies wanting nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.