Iran In Brief

IAEA Worried about Ongoing Military Nuclear Work in Iran

IAEA Worried about Ongoing Military Nuclear Work in Iran photo

June 8, 2011

By David Albright, Paul Brannan, and Andrea Stricker

On June 6, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a speech to the IAEA Board of Governors that the agency had received “further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”  Reuters reported that Amano later told a news conference, without disclosing the source of the information, “The activities in Iran related to the possible military dimension seem to have… continued until quite recently.”

The use of the term “military dimensions” refers to a broad set of activities the IAEA is investigating that are or were under the umbrella of Iran’s defense organizations.  Most of these activities concern alleged nuclear weaponization work but a few are related to alleged uranium conversion and gas centrifuge work conducted by military organizations.  Amano did not make clear which specific aspects of military dimensions he referred to as continuing until “quite recently.”  ISIS checked with the IAEA public affairs office, but it did not resolve this question.

One former IAEA official speculated to ISIS that Amano could be referring to work on neutron physics and high explosives.  The IAEA knows that two groups previously suspected of involvement in nuclear weaponization have continued operating.  Even if the new military dimension information concerns these groups, there is not enough public information to know exactly what type of work they are doing, for example, whether it involves work on nuclear weapons components.  Their work could be as simple as maintaining their skills and knowledge and not actually advancing their development of weapons components.  ISIS is seeking additional information and will report as information is available.

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