The UN atomic agency charges in a new report on Iran's nuclear program that Tehran has worked on developing a nuclear weapon design and other research and testing relevant for such arms.
The report marks the first time that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has directly tied Iran's nuclear program to weapons production.
"The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device," the IAEA says in the new report
by Director-General Yukiya Amano.
Elsewhere it expresses "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program." The report says that while some of the suspected secret nuclear work by Iran can have peaceful purposes, "others are specific to nuclear weapons." The document says those activities may be continuing.
Signaling frustration at Iranian officials' dealings so far on crucial topics, the report "requests" that Iran "engage substantively with the Agency without delay for the purpose of providing clarifications regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
The report's summary says that since "Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol [to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."
A 13-page attachment to the agency's report contains details of the intelligence and IAEA research that led the agency to its conclusions. According to AP, which obtained a copy of the supplement, the document shows "Tehran working on all aspects of research toward making a nuclear weapon, including fitting a warhead onto a missile."
Iran has rejected the report as "unbalanced" and politically motivated." Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said the report was the result of "political pressure mostly by the United States."
"Has the IAEA found in about 4,000 inspection mandates even one gram of material diverted to military purposes. Have the agency found any smoking gun? Therefore it seems that we are seeing the same scenario of the Bush administration but performed by the director general of the IAEA," Soltanieh said.
"This is a very dangerous game. I call the international community and all the peace-loving people of the world to prevent such a thing and to stop this process which is a very dangerous game in fact."
Before the report was released, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, speaking on Iranian state television, said Amano was just delivering "the papers that American officials hand to him."
"I regret that they've placed a person on top of [the IAEA] who has no authority of his own," Ahmadinejad said. "He even violates the agency's rules. Some of the documents have been written by the Americans and have been handed to him. He's just coming and talking all the time. [He should] publish a report on America as well and publish a report on America's friends."
Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's claim that it is not involved in making a nuclear weapon, and said it will not withdraw from peaceful nuclear activities.
Russia quickly criticized the report's public release, suggesting it could harm chances for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "We have serious doubts about the justification for steps to reveal contents of the report to a broad public, primarily because it is precisely now that certain chances for the renewal of dialogue between the 'sextet' of international mediators and Tehran have begun to appear."
The ministry said Moscow is studying the report to determine whether it contains new revelations about Tehran's nuclear ambitions or is a case of "the intentional -- and counterproductive -- whipping up of emotions."
The U.S. State Department said it needed time to study the new report, with spokeswoman Victoria Nuland initially declining to make any immediate comment on its contents.
Hours before the report's release, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear installations was not out of the question.
It was the second time in less than a week that an Israeli leader had raised the possibility of a strike on Iran. On November 5, Israeli President Shimon Peres warned in a television interview that an attack on Iran was becoming "more and more likely."
Barak made the remarks to Israeli Radio and said he didn't expect the report to convince Russia and China to agree to what he called "lethal" UN sanctions on Iran. As a result, he said, "we continue to recommend to our friends in the world, and to ourselves, not to take any option off the table."
The UN imposed its fourth, and toughest, program of sanctions targeting Iranian nuclear ambitions in June, 2010, but so far Tehran has shown no sign of abandoning sensitive activities.
Officials in Tehran have been quick to warn against launching any military action against their country, with military chief General Hassan Firouzabidi reportedly saying that Israel would "regret any such attack and be severely punished."
Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on November 8, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that if the report contained "ungrounded accusations," then that would "question the impartiality of this international organization."
Salehi cited a decade of "pressure over [Iran's] nuclear program...without any convincing evidence" and suggested the dispute -- which has spawned multiple rounds of UN sanctions against Tehran -- was "a political issue rather than a technical or legal one."
based on RFE/RL and agency reports