The UN atomic watchdog's hardest-hitting report to date on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons drive is probably too weak to convince Russia and China of the need for more sanctions, analysts said Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a keenly awaited assessment circulated late Tuesday it had broadly "credible" intelligence suggesting Iran had done work towards building nuclear warheads.
Iranian officials immediately slammed the report as "baseless" and "politically motivated."
Publishing reams of input from foreign intelligence agencies, and backed up by its own information, the IAEA said the Islamic republic had engaged in activities that could only conceivably have one purpose: producing the bomb.
The United States said late Tuesday it would ratchet up pressure and consult its partners on possible new sanctions while fellow permanent UN Security Council member France called Wednesday for "unprecedented sanctions.""The overwhelming impression is that over 20-25 years Iran ... consistently engaged in activities that are useful for nuclear weapons production," Mark Hibbs from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank told AFP.
Peter Crail from the Arms Control Association in Washington agreed but he said that the report did not constitute a "smoking gun" proving conclusively that the Iranians "are on the verge of making a nuclear weapon."
"Notably absent, however, is any assessment by the IAEA of Iran's capability to make a nuclear explosive device based on what is learned through these activities," the Washington-based think-tank Institute for Science and International Security said in a report.