January 4, 2006

Report says Iran seeks nuclear bomb: paper

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran is secretly trying to obtain
technology and expertise needed to build a nuclear weapon,
according to a leaked intelligence report that threatens to
deepen a rift with the West over its nuclear program.

Tehran's nuclear purchasing plans stretch from Europe to
North Korea and the former Soviet states, Britain's Guardian
newspaper said, citing a report by an unnamed European
intelligence agency.

The 55-page report, dated July 1, 2005, draws on material
gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies and
has been used to brief European government ministers, the
newspaper said.

The leaked report comes as Iran and the West remain locked
in a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

The United States and the European Union fear Iran's
civilian nuclear power program is a cover for making nuclear
weapons. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate
electricity.

The leaked intelligence report claims Iran has an advanced
program designed to acquire nuclear expertise, training and
equipment.

It also says Syria, Pakistan and North Korea are part of a
global black market in illicit weapons parts.

The document says Iran has built a web of front companies,
middlemen and academics whose job is to find the information
and materials needed for nuclear, biological and chemical
arsenals, according to the Guardian.

"In addition to sensitive goods, Iran continues intensively
to seek the technology and know-how for military applications
of all kinds," the newspaper quoted from the report.

'MISSILE DEVELOPMENT'

According to the Guardian, the document details Tehran's
attempts to build a missile capable of reaching Israel and
southern Europe.

Iranian scientists are building wind tunnels, navigation
technology and acquiring calibration devices needed for
advanced missiles, the document says.

It concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying
technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programs and
to enrich uranium, according to the Guardian.

The report concludes that scientists in Tehran are shopping
for parts for a new ballistic missile with "import requests and
acquisitions ... registered almost daily," the Guardian said.

The report's aim is to warn European Union companies from
doing business with the front companies, the newspaper said.
The report does not name Western firms or academics believed to
have worked with Iran, North Korea, Syria or Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Iran said it would resume atomic fuel research
and development next week.

That could lead to renewed calls from Washington and the
European Union for the case to be referred to the U.N. Security
Council, where Iran could face political or economic sanctions.