"What is striking is the totality and breadth of the information. Virtually every component of warhead research has been pursued by Iran," said a source close to the IAEA. "The agency has very, very, high confidence in its analysis. It did not want to make a mistake, and it was aware it had a very high threshold of credibility to meet. So it would not be published unless they had that high level of confidence."
In The New York Times, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad note that the IAEA is generally an agency noted for its caution, which makes this report all the more striking – and, even for some skeptics, convincing.
The I.A.E.A. report’s detailed revelations are a fascinating role reversal from 2003, when the United States and Britain claimed Iraq was seeking to rekindle its nuclear program. In that case, the agency warned that the Bush administration’s case was weak and that some of the evidence was forged. Now, it is the normally cautious agency that is taking the lead, arguing that years of study had led it to the conclusion that, despite Iran’s denials, the country engaged in an active program to design nuclear warheads, among other technologies.
Yet not everyone is convinced by the IAEA report. Al Jazeera’s English website notes that Russia and China apparently both lobbied the IAEA to not even publish its report. Russia believes that the report was released specifically to scuttle any chances of a diplomatic solution.
"We have serious doubts about the justification for steps to reveal contents of the report to a broad public, primarily because it is precisely now that certain chances for the renewal of dialogue between the 'sextet' of international mediators and Tehran have begun to appear," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
All of this cloak-and-dagger, of course, just puts one in the mood for a Graham Greene or John Le Carre novel, or better yet, a nice long Foreign Policy profile of real-life spy – and fabric entrepreneur – Jim Thompson.