By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Pam Benson
Amid new reports indicating Iran's nuclear program is faltering, the international nuclear watchdog agency is putting the finishing touches on its latest assessment and it might go further in tying Iran to a possible weapons program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's new report will be sent to the board of governors next month in advance of its November 17 meeting.
Last month, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said Iran was not providing enough detail about its program for the agency to conclude Iran is engaged in only peaceful nuclear activities.
"The agency is increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the agency continues to receive new information," Amano said at the September board of governors meeting. "In the near future, I hope to set out in greater detail the basis for the Agency's concerns so that all Member States are fully informed."
It is not clear how much more detail will be provided to the member nations, but a U.S. official says the report is not going to "fundamentally change" the assessment of the program. The official said "there are not new things being seen, but it will bring the IAEA in line with what the US has assessed so far."
However, nuclear weapons expert David Albright believes the IAEA might go a little further with its report.
"The IAEA has new stuff and something seems to have alarmed Amano," Albright said Tuesday.
IAEA member states have provided the director general with some new information, Albright explained. But whatever the details might be, Albright doubts there is a smoking gun that will definitively prove Iran has a weapons program.
A second U.S. official said Amano is struggling with what to release.
"It's a delicate balance for the director general," said the official, because he has to decide whether divulging more information could impact IAEA's ability to operate within Iran. As it is, Iran has restricted the access the agency inspectors have to its various nuclear facilities.
Albright, who is President of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, does not think Iran would go so far as to kick out the inspectors. As he put it, "all hell would break loose" within the international community and Iran is too vulnerable to "go for the bomb now."
Although the U.S. is convinced Iran is involved in the research and development of nuclear weapons, the most current American assessment is that Iran has still not decided whether to in fact build them.