Iran has already acquired the knowledge, technology, and resources to create a nuclear bomb within months, according to Western experts who were briefed on the intelligence information due to be released in this week's report by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency.
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According to the experts, Iranian scientists acquired the knowledge with the help of weapons scientists from Russia, Pakistan and North Korea.
Haaretz reported last week that other experts also estimated that Iran could assemble a nuclear bomb within months and carry out an underground nuclear experiment if it wishes to do so. The decision to assemble the weapon is effectively in the hands of Iranian leaders, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the helm.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the intelligence also supports concerns that Iran continued to conduct weapons-related nuclear research after 2003, when U.S. intelligence agencies believed Iran halted the research in response to international pressure.
Western powers believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Tehran denies wanting atom bombs, saying it is enriching uranium only to power reactors for electricity generation.
The United States, the European Union and their allies have imposed economic sanctions on Tehran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program. The United States and Israel have repeatedly hinted at the possible use of force against Iranian nuclear sites, eliciting threats of fierce retaliation from the Islamic Republic.
New disclosures in the IAEA report provide details on an apparent secret research program that was more ambitious, more organized and more successful than commonly suspected, The Washington Post said.
The Post quoted David Albright, a former IAEA official who reviewed the agency's findings, as saying that based on the intelligence the UN agency has concluded that Iran "has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device" using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core.
Albright described some of the highlights at a private conference of intelligence professionals last week, the newspaper said, adding that it had obtained slides from the presentation and a summary of Albright's notes.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מומחים במערב: איראן נמצאת במרחק של חודשים ספורים מהרכבת פצצת גרעין