Iran said trying to assemble bomb, Europe-range missile

A recent Western intelligence assessment holds that Iran has been “successfully scouring” Western European countries and the former Soviet Union for the technology needed to produce an atomic bomb, as well as ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe, the British Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday. The paper quoted the 55-page assessment, which it said had been used to brief EU ministers and to caution industrialists against exporting equipment or know-how. It said the assessment, dated July 1, 2005, was based on material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies. The report “concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programmes and to enrich uranium. It outlines the role played by Russia in the escalating Middle East arms build-up, and examines the part that dozens of Chinese front companies have played in North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.” “The leak of the intelligence report may signal a growing frustration at Iran’s refusal to bow to western demands that it abandon its programme to produce fuel for a Russian-built nuclear reactor due to come on stream this year,” the newspaper wrote. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is oriented solely for such peaceful purposes as producing electricity. According to the report, the “assessment declares that Iran has developed an extensive web of front companies, official bodies, academic institutes and middlemen dedicated to obtaining – in western Europe and in the former Soviet Union – the expertise, training, and equipment for nuclear programmes, missile development, and biological and chemical weapons arsenals.” Scores of Iranian companies and institutions are involved in the arms race, the assessment is quoted as saying. “Iranian scientists are said to be building wind tunnels to assist in missile design, developing navigation technology, and acquiring metering and calibration technology, motion simulators and x-ray machines designed to examine rocket parts,” the newspaper wrote. “The next generation of the Shahab (“shooting star” in Persian) should be capable of reaching Austria and Italy.”