Iran continuing to build nuclear weapons despite UN sanctions
Published 03/11/2011 | 05:00
IRAN is attempting to engineer and test nuclear weapons at a series of banned production sites in defiance of United Nations sanctions, according to a report to be released next week.
The research by the UN's watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will add a substantial layer to seven years of investigations and seems certain to inflame tensions in the Middle East.
Yukiya Amato, the organisation's director-general, is unlikely to draw a definitive conclusion that Iran is making nuclear weapons.
However, according to Western diplomats, the facts will make any other conclusion implausible.
Military planners say there is now a "shortening window of opportunity" as the Iranians are strengthening the defences of their nuclear-production facility at Qom, which is built into a mountainside.
The IAEA report is likely to provide further ammunition to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who has been pressing for pre-emptive military action.
The risks are huge and have so far deterred even some of the most conservative members of his coalition, as well as military and intelligence chiefs.
It would probably prompt retaliation by Iranian-sponsored groups Hezbollah and Hamas, oil prices could soar, Jews across the world could face terrorist attacks and the clerical regime in Tehran could be emboldened.
But the fear of allowing a country whose president has repeatedly called for Israel's annihilation to build a nuclear bomb led Israel yesterday to test a long-range ballistic missile that is easily capable of reaching Iran.
It has also emerged that Israel's air force simulated a long-range attack involving refuelling at a NATO base in Sardinia last week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)