GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The U.N. nuclear watchdog warned that Iran was apparently taking steps toward development of an atomic weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report Thursday concluding the evidence "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."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Friday denied this was the goal of Tehran's nuclear program, saying, "We do not believe in atomic weapons and are not seeking that," but the IAEA report supports theories among Western nations that Iran was seeking such weapons.
U.S. leaders have been working to develop additional sanctions against Iran due to a lack of candor about the nuclear program. Recent months have seen the revelation of a secret processing plant and last week's announcement that Iran was refining uranium to 20 percent, a step considered a threshold before attempting refinement to 90 percent, which is needed for nuclear weapons. The jump to 20 percent refinement is a violation of U.N. standards.
The Times of London quotes an unnamed IAEA official as saying: "The fact that they have increased the level of non-cooperation indicates to me that unless we can mount the international pressure to stop it, this program is heading more and more in the direction of seeking a weapons capability."
The IAEA report is the first from the group since Yukiya Amano became director general and could indicate a tougher stance than that of Mohamed ElBaradei, who left the position in December.