Since the early 1990s, the U.S. and a few other states have been highly concerned that
Iran’s revived nuclear program was intended, at least in part, to acquire the capability to make nuclear weapons. In 2003, acting on tips, the International Atomic Energy Agency began an intensive investigation that has uncovered a long list of Iranian violations of obligations to report nuclear transactions and activities. These violations of safeguard agreements center around Iran’s quest for equipment and materials to enable it to enrich uranium and separate plutonium, as well as experiments associated with other materials that can be essential in making nuclear weapons, such as polonium. In each instance, Iran has argued that the undeclared activity, while violating Iran’s reporting obligations, was for peaceful purposes, and therefore not a core violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The IAEA’s investigators also discovered activities that point to the involvement of military
institutions, which, if proved, would violate Iran’s core NPT obligation to use nuclear energy
solely for peaceful purposes. IAEA’s discovery of a document detailing how to manufacture
metallic uranium spheres, who’s only known purpose is in nuclear weapons, buttresses
suppositions that Iran has done more than violate its safeguards agreement.
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