London, July 7 : Intelligence reports provided by Western diplomats reveal that Iran has probably resumed work on constructing atomic weapons.
Tehran has announced that it has no intention of halting its uranium enrichment program, and if the diplomats are to be believed, Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which has overall responsibility for the country's nuclear program, has set up several civilian companies to work on the atomic weapons project, which are being concealed from United Nations nuclear inspection teams, reports The Telegraph.
According to recent intelligence reports, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally ordered the Revolutionary Guard to set up companies for the secret manufacture of components for P2 centrifuges this year.
One of the companies is in a residential building in Amir Abad, western Tehran, where its work is unlikely to be detected by U.N. nuclear inspectors. One of the facilities is said to be run by a company owned by the Revolutionary Guard.
The operation is a direct copy of the Revolutionary Guard's previous attempt to develop P2 centrifuges, when research work was undertaken by the Kalaye Electric Company, which claimed it was manufacturing watches.
According to the paper, these companies, based on the outskirts of Tehran, are working on constructing components for the advanced P2 gas centrifuge, which can enrich uranium to weapons grade two to three times faster than conventional P1 centrifuges.
Iran's controversial nuclear enrichment programme at Natanz, which Tehran insists is designed to produce fuel for nuclear power, runs on P1 centrifuges. But Iranian nuclear scientists recently conducted successful tests on a prototype P2 centrifuge at Natanz, and the Revolutionary Guard has now set up a network of companies to build components for the advanced centrifuges, The Telegraph quoting informed sources, adds.
Western experts are therefore concerned.
"If Iran's nuclear intentions were peaceful, there would be no need for it to undertake this work in secret," the paper quoted an official familiar with the intelligence reports.
A previous clandestine attempt by Iran to develop P2 centrifuges was halted in 2004 after the existence of a civilian company set up by the Revolutionary Guard was exposed. Then, U.N. nuclear inspectors found traces of weapons-grade uranium at the company when they inspected the premises.
At the weekend, Tehran announced that it has no intention of halting its uranium enrichment programme at Natanz.
An Iranian government spokesman said: "Iran's stand regarding its peaceful nuclear program has not changed."
Reports that Iran is actively working on Dr Khan's blueprint will deepen suspicions that Tehran has resumed work on its nuclear weapons program.