Six Unanswered Questions on Iran's Nuclear Program

In August 2007, Iran and the IAEA agreed to a work plan that included questions Iran was to answer by the end of the year. Once these final questions were answered, it was understood that Iran's nuclear file would be closed. The December 2007 NIE, however, raised new questions about Iran's nuclear program. Will the upcoming IAEA report address these new questions?

1. The NIE assessed with "high confidence" that Iran's weaponization program was halted in 2003. Who were the key scientists in Iran's nuclear weapons program? What are they doing today? What was done with the product of their program?

2. How far along was the program when it was halted? The NIE stated with moderate confidence that Iran would use covert facilities if it were to restart its program. What has the IAEA learned about Iran's covert program that would help the international community identify future covert efforts? Will Iran admit to having had a nuclear weapons program in the past?

3. The NIE assessed with "low confidence" that Iran had probably imported at least some weapons-usable fissile material, but not enough for a weapon. What exactly did Iran acquire from AQ Khan? How much fissile material did Iran get its hands on? Where could it be stored?

4. According to the NIE, there is evidence that Iran had been engaged in covert enrichment activities that were "probably" halted in 2003. How much confidence does the IAEA have that there are not significant covert enrichment activities currently underway? How many centrifuges might have been produced so far? How many might be operating somewhere we don't know about?

5. The NIE expressed "high confidence" in the finding that military entities had been working under governmental direction to develop nuclear weapons before the program was halted in 2003. The U.S. decided to share some of the intelligence linking Iran's military to its nuclear weapons program. What intelligence did Iran get access to? How did Iran respond to the evidence connecting its military with its ostensibly peaceful nuclear program? How has Iran addressed the U.S.'s concern over the so-called Green Salt Project, which involved uranium processing, high explosives, and a missile warhead design?

6. The NIE stated that Iran was continuing to conduct research and development projects that could be of use to a nuclear weapons program. What is the nature and extent of these projects?

More on Iran's nuclear program here