IAEA members question Iran nuclear intel authenticity
Pew Research poll shows majority of Americans would back attack on Iran
A divide has emerged within the International Atomic Energy Agency over the authenticity of intelligence produced by the Bush administration with regards to Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
According to excerpts from an internal IAEA report, published online by the Institute for Science and International Security, here (PDF link), allegations that Iran is in fact developing nuclear weapons are based almost entirely on U.S. intelligence given to the agency in 2002-03.
“Whether those documents are genuine or were fabricated has been the subject of a fierce struggle behind the scenes for many months between two departments of the IAEA,” noted Gareth Porter writing for IPS News.
While Olli Heinonen, who heads the IAEA’s Safeguards Department, has been pressing for the agency to release the report in-full, two of the agency’s other divisions have raised fierce objections. Some within the IAEA have even called for the agency to state plainly that the authenticity of the documents could not be confirmed.
“The draft report says the agency ‘assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device,'” added Porter. “But other passages indicate the authors regard such knowledge only as a possibility, based on suspicions rather than concrete evidence.”
Poll: Most Americans back attacking Iran
In spite of the IAEA’s doubts on Iran’s nuclear program, a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday found that a majority of Americans — 61 percent — would support a military strike to prevent Iran from obtaining such weapons.
Most Americans, 63 percent, approve of the United States “negotiating directly with Iran over the issue of its nuclear program,” with 28 percent opposed.
But despite the strong support, 64 percent of the 1,500 people surveyed believe the talks will not succeed in getting Iran to give up its controversial nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for civilian energy but many in the international community fear masks a weapons program.
The United States, along with Germany and fellow Security Council permanent members Britain, France, China and Russia, has restarted discussions with Iran on the nuclear program, with representatives from both sides meeting October 1 in Geneva for talks.
President Barack Obama has held out the threat of tougher sanctions against Tehran if it fails to deliver concrete action, and 78 percent of Americans said they would support stronger economic sanctions.