The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to release a report Tuesday or Wednesday of “compelling evidence” that Iran is working to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Secret intelligence gathered over years has revealed that Iran continued to conduct nuclear weapons-related research after 2003, further discrediting the 2007 U.S. intelligence report that found Tehran halted its experiments at that time. Moreover, the IAEA report is expected to announce that Iran has mastered the technical roadblocks needed to build a nuclear weapon with the help of scientists from Pakistan, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union.
The report will come on the heels of an increase in media speculation over a potential military attack on Iran from Israel, the U.S., or the UK.
IAEA headquarters in Vienna
Last week, The Guardian claimed that Britain is stepping up its planning so that it is ready to assist Washington, if needed, in targeted missile strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. According to one official, Tehran is moving its nuclear material into a fortified military base near Qom, potentially hiding it all within the next 12 months. “Beyond [12 months], we couldn’t be sure our missiles could reach them,” the official said. “So the window is closing, and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning. The US could do this on their own but they won’t.” The Obama administration has downplayed such reports.
But on Friday, Israeli President Shimon Peres did not put the speculation to rest, stating in a TV interview that he believes Israel is closer to using the military option than it is to finding a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Many analysts doubted that Iran actually halted its nuclear research following the controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate report, noting that the report narrowly defined the term “nuclear weapons program” and, in doing so, could harm the international effort at halting Tehran’s march towards nuclear capabilities. It likely did, and four years later the U.S. and Israel remain frustratingly stagnant when it comes to policy, while Iran continues to move forward.