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VIENNA—Iran never halted its clandestine nuclear weapons program despite repeated assurances to the West, according to a report that sheds new light on Tehran’s current and ongoing research into the creation of a nuclear warhead.
As the Nov. 24 deadline for nuclear talks between the West and Iran approaches, the report provides evidence that Iran continues to “vigorously” pursue a nuclear weapon.
The analysis, endorsed by leading former American and European officials, bolsters research conducted by the United Nations indicating that Iran continues to hide a great deal of its nuclear work.
The findings coincide with comments issued Thursday by the head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, stating that Iran still refuses to explain its research into an atomic weapon.
“Iran has vigorously pursued its ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons,” according to the report, published by the International Committee in Search of Justice.
“No serious indications that Tehran has stopped or abandoned this project or intends to do so were observed” in multiple internal reports issued by the U.N. over the past years, according to the report.
“On the contrary, all the available information points to the conclusion that it has resorted to further secrecy and concealment to keep its program intact and unhindered,” the report concludes. “Further revelations and information all point to the fact that a military program and military related activities are at the heart of the Iranian nuclear program.”
The report was endorsed by former U.S. Ambassador the UN John Bolton and former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph. It was authored by former European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal Quadras.
“Tehran has worked systematically on all the necessary aspects of obtaining nuclear weapons, such as enrichment, weaponization, warhead, and delivery system at some stage,” according to the author. “In other words, Iran has worked on specific programs and projects to master all necessary aspects of obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Multiple U.N. reports analyzed, including ones as recent as September 2014, indicate that “two [nuclear-related] systems have been fully functional [in Iran] during the whole period of the study,” according to the report.
These include Iran’s civilian nuclear programs as well as its military ones, which operate together in tandem, often in secrecy, the report states.
“These two structures resemble two concentric circles, working in tandem,” the author writes. “Over the years, the military part of the program has gone through reorganization or name changes but has moved forward including recent activities.”
Rather than halt the military components of its nuclear program, Iran has reshuffled its structure in order to obfuscate its efforts from international inspectors, who have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that Iran has been blocking efforts to investigate this work.
“According to available information, records, and documents, the military aspect of the program has been and remains at the heart of Iran’s nuclear activities,” the report says.
At least “five specific projects for enrichment” were identified by the report’s author, who note Iran has never provided the IAEA with information of access to these sites.
Iran’s assurances that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian use has enabled it to procure many key pieces of technology that also can be used for military purposes.
“A significant portion of the equipment for the military aspect has been obtained and procured under this guise,” according to the report. “Some organs at the highest level of the Iranian regime, including offices and centers affiliated with the president’s office have all been involved in smuggling or skirting sanctions to obtain illicit or dual-purpose equipment for these projects.”
A large number of Iranian military officials also have been identified as working on the nuclear program. The report’s author interprets this as a sign that the nuclear program has military dimensions that go beyond civilian use.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “commanders have been involved in the nuclear program from its early stages,” according to the report. “A number of the most senior officers and top brass of the IRGC have been following this project over the years.”
It remains unclear just how the United States will interpret these findings, or those warnings issued by the IAEA on Thursday.
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki informed reporters Thursday morning that Secretary of State Kerry will travel from Paris to Vienna to “check in” on the nuclear negotiations as they proceed.
Kerry’s “date of departure from Vienna is not yet determined,” Psaki said.