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IAEA report to detail efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon

By Elise Labott, CNN Senior State Department Producer
November 6, 2011 -- Updated 0533 GMT (1333 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The report is expected to be released next week
  • It will charge that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at weapons development, sources say
  • The United States is looking to increase the heat on Iran

Washington (CNN) -- The upcoming report by the International Atomic Energy Agency will make the most detailed charges to date that Iran's nuclear program is geared toward weapons development and military use, several Western diplomats briefed on the report told CNN.

The diplomats said that the report, expected to be released by the U.N. nuclear watchdog next week, will include more data than the organization has previously released on clandestine efforts by Iran to develop technologies to build a nuclear weapon, including computer models of a nuclear warhead. They argue the IAEA studies offer no other explanation for those efforts beyond Iran seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Although previous IAEA reports have cited concerns by the organization that Iran has been seeking to develop nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to deliver them, the diplomats said the upcoming report is expected to make the charges more explicitly.

The United States and other Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear program is geared toward weapons development, although Tehran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

The United States is looking to increase the heat on Iran, including a possible strengthening of existing sanctions on Iran's financial and banking sectors and additional political pressure -- all of which could be applied by the United States alone or in coordination with other allies. The United States also hopes international organizations, such as the United Nations, will take steps to further isolate Iran diplomatically.

Officials said that one of several options being considered is sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran, although the United States is mindful of the impact such a move could have on oil prices during a time of global economic turmoil.

U.S. officials said the administration of President Barack Obama will use the report to lobby the international community to slap new economic sanctions against Iran. Obama said he discussed the upcoming report with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Cannes, where he was attending a meeting of the G20 industrialized nations. The U.S. president said the two leaders "agreed on the need to maintain the unprecedented international pressure on Iran to meet its obligations."

Obama will be traveling to Asia later this coming week, where he is expected to personally make the case to Russian and Chinese leaders who have been reluctant to impose additional sanctions on Iran, the officials said.

The IAEA report comes on the heels of recent U.S. allegations of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington and could strengthen the U.S. case for tougher measures against Iran.

The Obama administration has publicly downplayed speculation that the United States and Britain are weighing a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, saying U.S. officials are focused on a diplomatic strategy. However, some officials say privately the U.S. military and intelligence community is growing increasingly concerned that Israel could be preparing such a strike and are monitoring both Israel and Iran closely.

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