Iran's Nuclear Program
November 27, 2007
The attached presentation focuses on the inspection activity and reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and related UN activity. It is the third of a three part series on Iranian nuclear programs and long-range missiles. The first covered the consequences of Iranian use of nuclear weapons, and of a possible nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel or the gulf states. It is available on the CSIS web site at
The second presentation covered what is and is not known about Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile developments. It is available on the CSIS web site at
This report focuses on the evidence provided by the IAEA. The sections dealing with IAEA reporting – particularly the latest reports as of November 2007 -- quote the key technical judgments and findings of IAEA inspectors and not just the summary comments. These detailed findings often do a far better job of revealing the level of Iranian non-compliance, delay, and obfuscation than the summary comments.
The evidence presented provides strong indications that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Specifically, Iran is known to have made significant efforts in all of the following areas, most of which have been tracked by the IAEA for some time:
- Beryllium (neutron reflector)
- Polonium (neutron initiator)
- Plutonium separation
- Uranium enrichment
- Machining of Uranium hemispheres
- Re-entry vehicle design
- Acquisition of North Korean (Chinese) weapons design? AQ Khan network transfers
- High explosive lenses
The attached briefing shows that the IAEA has traced a pattern of Iranian efforts that fit a coherent and consistent nuclear weapons program that is difficult to explain in any other way, but no certainties are involved. Moreover, major uncertainties exist in virtually every aspect of any effort to characterize what kind of program Iran may be intending to create, when it will have a significant stock of weapons, and how it intends to deploy and exploit such a capability.
At the same time, there is wide range of possible Iranian activities that the IAEA may never be able to fully address, even if Iran does adopt the full range of NPT protocols.
- Clandestine elements of nuclear weapons research.
- Passive (non-fissile)testing of nuclear weapons designs and warheads/bombs/reentry vehicles.
- Clandestine R&D activity in centrifuges, reactors, plutonium separation, LIS.
- Existence and nature of undisclosed facilities.
- “Breakout” plans for nuclear power reactors and fuel cycle.
- True intention of disclosed and inspected activities.
- Level of North Korean (Chinese) weapons and warhead designs.
- Existence and validity of national intelligence data.
- MEK truths vs. half-truths vs. lies.
This report will be regularly updated and corrections and additions would be most welcome. Please address corrections and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org