Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

February 22, 2008

Iran’s nuclear programme

Filed under: Iran,Non-proliferation,NPT,Nuclear — admin @ 7:43 pm

On 12 February, I wrote a detailed and neutral analysis of Iran’s nuclear programme and its potential capacity to produce weapons. The article was in anticipation of the report by IAEA on Iran sent to its board today, that was intended to wrap up the IAEA’s investigation of Iran’s past and present nuclear activities. The report is classified until 3 March, but has been leaked, and I append a full copy below fyi — as with WHO, other intergovernmental, and government, reports you need to understand diplomatic speak fluently to understand the nuances.

My earlier article also included 2 short boxes — one on the main outstanding issues that IAEA still had to obtain satisfactory answers to, and another on potential weapons break-out scenarios.

Today’s report by the IAEA reveals a disappointing lack of progress, far short of the agency’s expectations. But there is nonetheless reason to believe that reason may yet prevail in this charged dossier, where excessive belligerence on all sides has stalled an acceptable resolution.

I’ve appended below some excerpts from my earlier articles, which may help interpret the new IAEA report. For more detailed analyses of the technical issues in the Iran case, I’d recommend the site of the Institute for Science and International Security, and a January article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist by Richard Garwin, a former nuclear weapons designer who is now a major force for disarmament. Another good source of information is the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The IAEA page on Iran is here.

Abridged excerpts from my earlier articles, and the full text of the new IAEA report appended below:

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