'Iran combing Europe for nuke parts'

Intelligence report accuses Iran of searching for military know-how.

iran nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A confidential intelligence report says that Iran's government has combed Europe for parts to build both nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, a British newspaper said Wednesday. The 55-page assessment, which draws on material from Western intelligence agencies, offers names and locations of suspected players in the global trade in components needed to build weapons of mass destruction, the Guardian newspaper said in a front-page report. "In addition to sensitive goods, Iran continues intensively to seek the technology and know-how for military applications of all kinds," the Guardian quoted the report as saying. The report - based on data obtained by British, French, German and Belgian agencies - also concluded that Syria and Pakistan have been scouring the marketplace for technology and chemicals needed to enrich uranium and develop rocket programs. Russia's role in the escalating arms build up in the Middle East also is outlined, as is the role of Chinese companies supplying North Korea's program. The assessment - dated July 1, 2005 - is seen as a warning to European Union governments, which have been struggling to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons. It also will add fuel to critics who believe Iran wants to develop a nuclear arsenal and are skeptical of Iran's claims that its nuclear programs are aimed only at power generation. The Guardian report came one day after Iran told the UN nuclear watchdog agency that it plans to resume nuclear fuel research after a 2-and-a-half-year hiatus. The deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Saeedi, said Tuesday the research would "resume in cooperation and coordination," with the UN nuclear agency, but he declined to offer specifics on what the research would entail. Tehran says it remains determined to resume uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Iran had suspended parts of its nuclear fuel program in 2003 during negotiations with Britain, France and Germany. The talks broke down in August after Iran resumed uranium-reprocessing activities in Isfahan in central Iran. Such activities are the step before enrichment. Though Iran and the big three powers resumed negotiations last month, the talks have so far failed to resolve the dispute. Further discussions are scheduled for later this month.