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Source: Fox News

Jul 9, 2023

European intel report warns Iran moves toward possible testing of nuclear bomb
A Dutch report says Iran continues to increase enriched uranium stocks

A fresh batch of damning European intelligence reports reveal that the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to bypass U.S. and EU sanctions to secure technology for its nuclear weapons program with a view toward testing an atomic bomb.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first published translations of the intelligence documents on its website, the security agencies of Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany revealed sensitive data during the first six months of 2023 on the Iranian regime's illicit nuclear weapons proliferation activities. The reports mainly cover Iran’s alleged illegal conduct in 2022.

The most shocking revelation in the trove of intelligence data was from the Netherlands General and Intelligence Security Service (AVID) that determined Iran’s astonishingly fast development of weapons-grade uranium "brings the option of a possible [Iranian] first nuclear test closer." 

Fox News Digital reached out to AVID for comment. 

"Last year, Iran proceeded with its nuclear program," the Dutch report noted. "The country continues to increase stocks of 20% and 60% enriched uranium. By means of centrifuges, this can be used for further enrichment to the 90% enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon."

According to the Netherlands' intelligence report, "Iran is further ignoring the agreements that were made within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). And by deploying increasingly more sophisticated uranium enrichment centrifuges it is enlarging its enrichment capacity."

The U.S. and other world powers reached an agreement (JCPOA) with Iran in 2015 to provide Tehran with over $100 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for temporary restrictions on Tehran's alleged atomic weapons programs. 

The Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 because, according to President Trump, the deal did not stop Iran’s rulers from attempting to build nuclear weapons and impose an end to its state-sponsored terrorist activities.

The Biden administration is reportedly seeking to replicate a mini-version of the JCPOA

"The reality is that Iran has not in any way backed off from its efforts to build nuclear weapons, has taken every opportunity to advance its technological capabilities to this end and has for years misled the international community and lied about its intentions while at the same time widely publicizing its goal to legitimately attain nuclear-threshold status and continues doing so to this day," Ayelet Savyon, director of MEMRI’s Iran Media Project, wrote.

European intelligence agencies have documented prior to 2015 and after the JCPOA was agreed upon that Iran continued efforts to illegally secure technology for its atomic, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction programs.

The Swedish Security Service wrote in its annual report in 2023 that "Iran engages in industrial espionage, which is mainly aimed at the Swedish high-tech industry and Swedish products that can be used in nuclear weapons program."

"The Swedish Security Service can confirm that Iran are conducting security-threatening activities in Sweden and against Swedish interests," Adam Samara, a spokesperson for the Swedish Security Service, told Fox News Digital in an email.

"Examples of these activities are industrial espionage targeting Swedish high-tech industries and unlawful intelligence gathering targeting Swedish higher education institutions. Iran seeks Swedish technology and knowledge that can be used in their nuclear weapons program.

"The Swedish Security Service has an ongoing collaboration with our international partners, but we do not however go into details concerning that collaboration."

When asked about the European intelligence findings, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, "We have seen the reports. We have long made clear our concerns about Iran’s nuclear, missile and conventional arms-related activities and associated procurement efforts. Iran’s development and proliferation of ballistic missiles pose a serious threat to regional and international security.

"We continue to work closely with our allies and partners to use all tools at our disposal to impede these activities, including through interdictions, export controls and sanctions. We will also continue raising our concerns, including at the U.N. and in other public forums, about Iran’s ballistic missile capacity and the need for concerted action to counter it."

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for monitoring Iran’s alleged illicit nuclear weapons program. When questioned about the European intelligence, Fredrik Dahl, a spokesman for the IAEA, told Fox News Digital, "In line with agency policy, we don't comment on such matters."

The European intelligence reports are of great significance, according to a leading expert on non-proliferation. 

"There should be more public reporting of the findings in these intelligence reports," David Albright, a physicist who is the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C., added.

"The public and, more importantly, industry need to be alerted about the threat posed by Iran and Russia. Iran as well as Russia depend heavily on foreign procurement of both specific items but also technology for their nuclear, missile, conventional arms and/or drone programs.

"The intelligence reports show that Iran continues to try to find ways to subvert European controls and obtain items needed for its nuclear and missile programs. Often it succeeds. It is hard to ignore that one unfortunate side effect of the 2015 nuclear deal was a declining focus, and allocation of resources, to detecting and preventing Iranian Illicit procurements, where intelligence played a critical role.  

"So, it is good to see this renewed focus on Iran. European nations need to deploy more intelligence resources aimed at detecting Iranian procurement efforts. They also need to step up their enforcement of the perpetrators and their sanctions action against Iranian entities and officials."

Albright worked closely with the IAEA Action Team from 1992 until 1997 focusing on Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. In 1996, he served as the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. 

"These intelligence reports confirm that Iran focuses on gaining both technical data and assistance ‘technology’ for its nuclear and missile programs in Europe," Albright said. "This is the specific knowledge or information needed for the development, production or use of these items. 

In some ways, technology is just as, or in some cases, more important to stop than the procurement of specific items. There needs to be accelerated efforts against Iran acquiring technical data (e.g., blueprints and engineering designs) and technical assistance (e.g., instructions and training).

"It goes without saying that the government should fully inform the IAEA about the details of these cases since they could indicate additional undeclared Iranian nuclear activities."

Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) also had warnings in its June 2023 intelligence report.

"The authorities for the protection of the constitution were able to find, in 2022, a consistently high number of indications of proliferation relevant procurement attempts by Iran for its nuclear programs," the report states. 

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