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Reuters: U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Shelved Plans for Report Detailing Iran Nuclear Weapons Progress

Reuters reported on Thursday that had U.N.’s nuclear watchdog last year planned and then suspended efforts to compile a report revealing “more of [Iran’s] suspected atomic bomb research,” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seemingly calculating that the evidence would complicate Western efforts to strike an agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program.

A decision not to go ahead with the new document may raise questions about information that the United Nations agency has gathered in the last two years on what it calls the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran says the program is peaceful and denies Western allegations that it is seeking to develop the capability to make bombs.

The sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, suggested the more recent material concerned extra detail about alleged research and experiments that were covered in the November 2011 report. A new report would probably have included “updated information on PMD” which could have “reinforced the concern” about Iran, one said.

The revelation, which came two days after the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released documentation showing that Iran has resumed work at a military base where it is believed to have conducted experiments linked to the development of nuclear warheads, seems set to fuel suspicions that there are pockets of diplomats seeking to downplay the extent of Iran’s clandestine atomic work in the interests of striking a deal that can be publicly sold as having substantively addressed Tehran’s weaponization drive.

Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated on Thursday that Iran will refuse to dismantle any of its atomic facilities or centrifuges.

Zarif said Iran was “prepared to make sure that the program is exclusively peaceful and create the necessary understanding for the West. I believe there are multiple ways of doing that and we are willing to entertain those ways.” But, he added: “I can tell you that Iran’s nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program.”

A previous report by ISIS had calculated that any deal which meaningfully set back Tehran’s nuclear program would have to require the Islamic Republic to dismantle at least 15,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges and close some of its enrichment facilities, alongside other steps relating to plutonium production and weapons research. Zarif told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday that negotiations between the P5+1 global powers and Iran are “going well.”

[Photo: opcwonline / YouTube]