Iran may have worked on key atom bomb part: diplomats

Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:17pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mark Heinrich

LONDON (Reuters) - Intelligence suggests Iran worked on testing a key atomic bomb component as recently as 2007, diplomats said on Monday, a finding which if proven would clash with Iran's assertion its nuclear work is for civilian use.

The diplomats commented on a Times of London report about what it called a confidential Iranian technical document describing a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the part of a nuclear warhead that sets off an explosion.

The Times, diplomats and analysts reached by Reuters said such a device had no conventional military or civilian use.

In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the semi-official Fars news agency the report was "baseless ... Such statements are not worthy of attention. These reports ... are intended to put political and psychological pressure on Iran."

Iran, the world's No. 5 crude oil exporter, says its uranium enrichment program is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more gas and oil. The West believes Iran wants bombs from enrichment because of its record of nuclear secrecy.

A senior diplomat familiar with the gist of the Times report said the document, obtained by intelligence services, had been passed on to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which has been probing intelligence allegations of Iranian attempts to "weaponize" enrichment for five years.

A senior International Atomic Energy Agency official declined comment "at this stage."

But the information would fall into the category of what senior IAEA officials have told Reuters are regular intelligence updates on Iran they receive from certain member states, mainly the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Israel.   Continued...