Intelligence information received by Western diplomats reports that Iran has resumed building equipment used for constructing atomic weapons.
According to the London-based Daily Telegraph, the latest intelligence indicates that the work is aimed at developing a bomb according to a blueprint provided by Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the Pakistanian nuclear program who sold information on building atom bombs to Iran in the early 1990s.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, along with senior officials from its Atomic Energy Agency, is reportedly directing the clandestine project that has been concealed from United Nation’s inspection teams.
Iran, the world's fourth-biggest oil exporter, says its nuclear activities are peaceful. The United States and its Western allies suspect they are a cover to build atomic bombs.
“If Iran’s nuclear intentions were peaceful there would be no need for it to undertake this work in secret,” says an official familiar with the intelligence reports.
Construction of the highly sophisticated atomic weapons is being done on the outskirts of Tehran, The Telegraph reports, and includes the advanced P-2 gas centrifuge for uranium enrichment.
Tehran last week announced to the world media that it has no intention of halting its uranium enrichment program.
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana tells The Jerusalem Post he hopes to hold talks with the Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, before the end of the month to diffuse tensions in the region.
“There’s been no response yet. We are still talking among ourselves, but we hope to have a response soon… hopefully by the end of the month,” Solana says.
Shabtai Shavit, adviser to the Israeli parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee, tells The Sunday Telegraph that time is running out to prevent Iran from creating an atomic bomb, predicting that Iran is less than 12 months from achieving its nuclear ambitions.
Shavit, who retired from the Israeli intelligence agency in 1996, warns that he has no doubt Iran intends to use a nuclear weapon once it has the capability.
"The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time," he says in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.
"As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared,” Shavit says.
“We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don't work. What's left is a military action."
An Iranian official speaking on behalf the republic was quoted by Reuters Tuesday as saying Iran will hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and American interests around the world if it is attacked over its nuclear activities.
"The first bullet fired by America at Iran will be followed by Iran burning down its vital interests around the globe," the students news agency ISNA quotes Ali Shirazi, an aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying in a speech to Revolutionary Guards.
More than 40 percent of all globally traded oil passes through the 35-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, putting tankers entering or leaving the Gulf at risk from Iranian attacks, which Iran intends to use as leverage in the nuclear dispute.
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