Why now? Perhaps because the unlovely and certainly unlamented Mohammed Mustaffa El Baradei who ran the IAEA for years has left and gone back to Egypt to run for the presidency.
Four months ago, speaking (of all places) in Tehran, this Nobel Peace Prize laureate said "Israel is the number one threat to Middle East". He was in Iran, as the newsagencies like to put things, "for talks with Iranian officials over Teheran's nuclear program"...but those talks somehow never lead this highly ideological individual to say what Blind Freddie could see: that the Mullahs and the Ayatollahs are in a headlong rush to become a nuclear force.
A month before his visit to Teheran, El Baradei was quoted by the BBC saying that there was "no credible evidence" about an Iranian weapons attempt. He said: "I do not think based on what we see that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme."
Thank heavens he's gone. If only it had been much sooner.
UN watchdog raises fears over Iran's nuclear aimsMore here
By Daniel Dombey and Anna Fifield in Washington
Published: February 19 2010 02:00 | Last updated: February 19 2010 02:00
The United Nations nuclear watchdog said it was worried Iran could be working on "a nuclear payload for a missile", in its most hard-hitting report on Tehran's atomic programme. It also highlighted the possibility that Iran might shift almost its entire stock of low enriched uranium closer to weapons grade.
In a report that seemed set to increase tension in the nuclear dispute and bolster the US's push for UN sanctions, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had "broadly consistent and credible" information about activities that could help Tehran develop atomic weapons. These included work with high explosives, designs that could help a missile carry fissile material and attempts by people linked to Iran's military to obtain nuclear technology and equipment.
"This raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," the IAEA said. It added that it sought discussions with Iran about "alleged activities related to nuclear explosives".
In a contradiction of Bush administration-era US intelligence - that Iran had suspended work on nuclear weaponisation in 2003 - the report said the activities it described "seem to have continued beyond 2004"...
Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to 20 per cent to fuel a medical research reactor and has declined an international offer for its low-enriched uranium to be processed in other countries instead. But analysts said that Iran would need far less than the 1,950kg to meet the research reactor's needs and that the current stockpile would provide comfortably more than enough fissile material for a bomb, if further processed. The report indicated that Iran's activity at its enrichment plant in Natanz was still operating at far less than capacity, with only 3,772 centrifuges being fed with nuclear feedstock out of 8,610 installed.