Highlights in U.N. report on Iran nuclear program

VIENNA Tue Nov 8, 2011 4:35pm EST

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog issued Tuesday its most detailed report to date pointing to research, experiments and other activities in Iran geared to developing the capability to make nuclear bombs.

Here are some of the highlights from the report distributed to member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency:

POSSIBLE MILITARY DIMENSIONS TO IRAN'S WORK:

"While some of the activities identified in the (report's) annex have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons," the report said.

"The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured program. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing."

"The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

"The Agency is concerned because some of the activities undertaken after 2003 would be highly relevant to a nuclear weapon program."

TECHNICAL FINDINGS:

The below includes extracts from the annex to the IAEA report which cites information from member states the agency has assessed as credible.

Iran has:

-- Sought to procure equipment, materials and services which would be useful in the development of a nuclear explosive device. These include high speed electronic switches and spark gaps which could be used for triggering and firing detonators, neutron sources, radiation detection and measuring equipment, training courses on topics relevant to nuclear explosives development.

-- Been provided with nuclear explosive design information, a member of a clandestine nuclear supply network told the agency in 2007.

-- Sought information on how to convert highly-enriched uranium into a metal, a step needed to make a nuclear core for a weapon.

-- Developed "exploding bridgewire detonators." "Iran's development of such detonators and equipment is a matter of concern," the report said, citing links to an initiation system.

-- Conducted high-scale explosive experiments in the region of Marivan.

-- Manufactured simulated nuclear explosive components using high density materials such as tungsten.

-- Built a large explosives containment vessel to conduct experiments at Parchin in 2000.

-- Carried out nuclear device modeling studies in 2008 and 2009.

-- Worked to manufacture small capsules suitable for carrying components filled with nuclear material. Such components could be used in a fission chain reaction. This work may have continued after 2004.

-- Planned and carried out preliminary experiments which would be useful for the testing of a nuclear bomb.

-- Studied how to fit payloads onto the re-entry vehicle of a Shahab 3 missile and examined how they would function in theory during launch and flight. The activities may be relevant to a non-nuclear payload but would be highly relevant to a nuclear weapon program, the IAEA said.

-- Worked on developing a prototype firing system which would allow a payload to explode in the air above a target, or upon hitting the ground in the missile re-entry vehicle.

From the main report:

-- Iran has started moving nuclear material to the underground Fordow nuclear site and installed two cascades of 174 enrichment machines. They were not yet connected and were the old IR-1 model which Iran has installed at its main Natanz enrichment plant.

-- Iran has 8,000 installed centrifuge machines at Fordow, around 6,200 are in operation. It has produced 4,922 kg of low-enriched uranium since 2007, or enough for a handful of nuclear weapons if enriched to higher levels.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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