U.S. Briefing on Iran Alleges Pattern of Concealment, Deception

Sept. 14, 2005 — -- In a presentation for International Atomic Energy Agency officials and the 35 countries on its governing board, U.S. Energy Department officials detail evidence claiming to show that Iran remains committed to developing a nuclear weapon and is deceiving the international community, ABC News has learned.

ABC News has obtained a copy of the 43-slide PowerPoint computer presentation, which was delivered to IAEA Board members in the run-up to its meeting Monday, when Iran's nuclear program will be the subject of debate.

U.S. officials have been working hard to persuade members of the agency's governing board that Iran remains determined to develop a nuclear weapon and should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for violations of its agreements with the IAEA.

'Pattern of Concealment'

The presentation, including both satellite imagery and talking points, argues that Iran's claims that it seeks only a peaceful nuclear power program "do not hold up under scrutiny." To support its claims, it cites "long standing safeguards violations" and a "pattern of concealment," including the construction of "dummy buildings" at Natanz, Iran's uranium enrichment complex, to conceal ventilation shafts.

The briefing's second section addresses the apparent lack of plausible reasons for Iran's investment in nuclear power, noting that Iran lacks the uranium ore to support a commercial-scale nuclear power industry, and that similar investments in its oil and gas infrastructure would reap far greater economic rewards. The presentation concludes by arguing that Iran's development of the nuclear fuel cycle -- mining, uranium conversion, enrichment -- is scaled to the size of a nuclear weapons program and not a nuclear power one.

According to a U.S. official familiar with the Iranian nuclear issue, the unclassified presentation is the work of two Energy Department labs: Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

There is no consensus yet among IAEA Board members that Iran is guilty of maintaining a nuclear weapons program. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have been urging Iran to resume a suspension of its nuclear activities to avoid a potential referral of the matter to the United Nations.