A secret intelligence dossier currently being reviewed by US, Israeli, German, and Austrian governments reveals secret Iranian tests and hierarchies of power dedicated to the successful development of a nuclear bomb, and predicts that Iran will have a primitive nuclear bomb by year's end.
According to the classified document featured in an exposé by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, Iran is well on its way toward obtaining its first nuclear bomb. The country's nuclear research program, it turns out, has a military wing answering to the Defense Ministry which the West was not aware of until now.
Der Spiegel explained the structure of Iranian nuclear establishment at length. Iran's new Minister of Science, Research, and Technology, Kamran Daneshjoo, 52, is in charge of the country's nuclear energy agency. A close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Daneshjoo was educated in Manchester, England. He worked for some time at Tehran's "Center for Aviation Technology", which later developed into FEDAT, the "Department for Expanded High-Technology Applications". FEDAT ultimately became what the German paper calls "the secret heart of Iran's nuclear weapons program", answering directly to the Defense Ministry.
FEDAT is currently run by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, 48, a professor at Tehran's Imam Hussein University and officer in the Revolutionary Guard. Western intelligence agencies say FEDAT and the Ministry of Science are working together to create the bomb. They also believe that a primitive nuclear weapon the size of a truck will be completed this year.
Two to four years after that, the bomb will be compressed to a size capable of fitting into a nuclear warhead and being launched at Israel.
Iran is believed to have conducted successful tests of a nuclear detonating device 6 years ago.
'Not just Israeli propaganda'
Despite the severity of the situation, the international community is still undecided on sanctions of Iran. China is considered likely to try to block sanctions, as it currently holds billions of dollars in energy deals with the country.
A military option may prove difficult, according to military experts, because many of the Iranian nuclear installations are deep underground.
The report will likely cause the US government to raise its alarm level from yellow to red, according to Der Spiegel. "Skeptics who in the past, sometimes justifiably so, treated alarmist reports as Israeli propaganda, are also extremely worried," including IAEA officials, said the magazine. The report also says, somewhat cryptically, that a laptop computer passed on to the IAEA by way of German and American intelligence agencies contained highly volatile material.
Fears of a nuclear Iran have been compounded by information provided by Iran's former deputy defense minister, Ali Reza Asgari, and nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, both of whom defected to the United States and were given new identities.
Iran has consistently stated that its nuclear program is for the peaceful provision of nuclear energy to the country's citizenry.
In October, the IAEA presented a plan to Iran which had been developed by the US government. Under the plan, Iran would send 70% of its low-enriched uranium abroad. A year later, the uranium would be exchanged for fuel rods, a potent form of nuclear fuel which is very difficult to enrich for military purposes.
The plan would have provided sufficient fuel for a nuclear energy program and to fuel the reactor for scientific experiments. At the same time, the world would have been assured that Iran truly had no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
On January 19, Tehran offered a "counter-proposal", effectively rejecting the IAEA plan and casting off illusions of a compromise with the West.