A "secret annex" to a report by the international nuclear energy watchdog says Iran is currently able to build a nuclear

Senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) prepared a secret document.

bomb, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Russia and America spar over a meeting with Iran to negotiate the issue.

The AP report claims that senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) prepared a secret document on Iranian nuclear capabilities. Iran already has "sufficient information" to prepare an atom bomb, the report reveals, but the Islamic Republic is missing a sufficient delivery system. However, the AP says, quoting the secret report, Iran is expected to overcome that limitation.

The United States has claimed that outgoing IAEA Chairman Mohamed ElBaradei had prepared just such a "secret annex". More generally, Israel and the U.S. recently charged that the IAEA was not revealing all it knew about Iranian nuclear weapons development.

On the other hand, as early as 2005, ElBaradei said that it would take Iran only a few months to produce an atomic bomb if production went ahead at the nuclear plants the IAEA was not given access to at the time.

Earlier this month, Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy to the IAEA, confirmed long-time Israeli intelligence reports that Iran is close to achieving the ability to produce a nuclear bomb. He said that Iran was "very near or already in possession of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon."

Talks With Iran

Regardless of these assessments, six major world powers - the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - will hold talks with Iran in two weeks, on October 1.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki insisted that his country would not hold direct talks with the Americans at the meeting. “The Americans will directly be present at the negotiating table and during this round of negotiations, different subjects and issues will be discussed and studied,” Mottaki said, according to Iran's news agency.

Russia, meanwhile, expressed clear opposition to additional sanctions on Iran in order to coerce its compliance with nuclear development restrictions sought by the international community. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, “Today there is a real chance to conclude talks whose results should be an agreement restoring trust in the purely peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. Disrupting this chance by demanding swift imposition of sanctions would be a serious mistake.”

Iran denies any of its nuclear programs are for the development of weapons, contrary to American, Israeli and European assessments.

Regarding the use of force against Iran should the Islamic Republic persist in nuclear development, Lavrov said it “would have catastrophic effect for the entire Middle East.”

Obama Drops E. Europe's Defensive 'Umbrella'

Apparently as part of negotiations with Russia over cooperation on the Iran issue, among others, President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he has dropped Bush administration-era plans for a missile defense umbrella in eastern Europe. According to the plan, American interceptor missiles and radar systems were to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, respectively.

The Bush administration had promoted the “umbrella” plans as defense against long-range missile attack, possibly loaded with weapons of mass destruction, by nations such as Iran and North Korea. Russia, however, saw the planned deployment as a challenge to its own security in the region.

Israel, meanwhile, remains committed to its position on Iran regardless of any international political machinations. In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeated his familiar formula that Iran must not be allowed to get its hands on nuclear weapons. He provided no further details regarding Israel's plans to prevent that eventuality.