- Endeavor to be prepared to carry out an underground nuclear test
- Attempt to acquire highly enriched uranium (HEU) from abroad
- Start of building of parallel fuel cycle to produce HEU for nuclear weapons
- Fordow enrichment plant was designed to produce HEU
- Supreme Council for Advanced Technologies was overseeing these efforts
This question was not answerable in late 2015 and early 2016, based on the information in the hands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when the long outstanding issues, including the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD), were addressed before the start of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But now, with Israel’s 2018 seizure of documents, computer files, and images from a “Nuclear Archive” in Tehran, such questions can be far better addressed.
This report discusses a slide from a fairly long Iranian presentation, dated to the late 1990s or early 2000, which states that Iran intended to build five nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons and able to be delivered by ballistic missile (Figure 1). 1 This report discusses another document available from the archive that provides an early look at how Iran planned to achieve its goal of designing and manufacturing five nuclear weapons by about 2003 (Figures 2-4).
These documents show, in addition to other documents assessed by the Institute 2, that Iran had put in place by the end of 2003 the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear weapons program. The evidence supports that Iran was preparing to conduct an underground test of a nuclear weapon, if necessary. The end goal was to have tested, deliverable nuclear weapons, and Iran made more progress toward that goal than known before the seizure of the archives.
Today, the IAEA has access to much, if not most, of the content of the Iranian archives seized by Israel in Tehran. Although the onus remains on Iran to disclose information about its nuclear weapons efforts and allow the IAEA access to both sites and individuals, it is the responsibility of the IAEA and member states to ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is ended in an irretrievable permanent manner, pursuant to in-depth verification that has not yet been carried out under Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement, its provisional implementation of the Additional Protocol, and the JCPOA. Although absence of progress on this critical issue is largely due to lack of Iranian cooperation, fault also lies with some who negotiated the JCPOA and have failed to empower the IAEA to do so. There is no visible indication that the IAEA is yet acting on the new information. It is also essential that Iran agree to long-term monitoring in order to provide assurances, via early detection of any violations, that those activities are not restored after any future dismantlement. [...]