Secret IAEA document: Iran has ability to make atom bomb
UN nuclear watchdog dismisses report, saying it has no proof Iran has covert atomic weapons program.
Experts belonging to the United Nations nuclear watchdog organization are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system capable of carrying an atomic warhead, according to a secret report.
The document, drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, is the clearest indication yet that the agency's leaders share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities.
It appears to be the so-called secret annex on Iran's nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA's chief.
The document says Iran has sufficient information to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to overcome problems on developing a delivery system.
This report comes just as U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that his administration has scrapped Bush administration plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic to combat the Iranian threat.
The IAEA, however, later denied the report, saying that it had no proof that Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb program. In a statement, the organization reaffirmed former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei's Sept. 9 warning that allegations the agency was sitting on undeniable evidence of Iranian bomb work were "politically motivated and baseless."
"With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapons program in Iran," the statement said.
Meanwhile Thursday, IAEA member states agreed to call for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, with more countries supporting the resolution than last year.
At the IAEA's annual general conference, 103 countries voted in favor, none against. Only four abstained - including the United States and Israel. Last year, 13 countries abstained on a similar resolution.
Consensus on the resolution was reached only after an indirect reference to Iran and Syria was included in Egypt's draft text.
A deal was reached in discussions in the last days involving Egypt, Israel, Sweden - holding the current European Union presidency - and the United States, according to diplomats.
Alluding to Iran and Syria, the final text of the adopted resolution called on all states in the Middle East to "to cooperate fully with the IAEA within the framework of their respective obligations."
The IAEA said in a recent report that it has made no headway in confirming whether Iran conducted research related to nuclear weapons in the past.
The Vienna-based nuclear agency has also been trying in vain to get more access to Syria, in order to verify whether a site bombed by Israel in 2007 was indeed a secret nuclear reactor under construction.
"We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today in the discussions that we've had on this issue this week," U.S. ambassador Glyn Davies said.