Only the willfully blind would just be seeing this and beginning to understand it, yet the IAEA has been willfully blind for a very long time.
There have been UN Security Council Sanctions as well as U.S. sanctions leveled against Iran for not living up to their international responsibilities, each set a little stronger the the previous set, but none of them with any real teeth to give Iran the incentive to stop building nuclear weapons.
Wake up America followed along with this issue in March 2007 here, October 2007 here (US sanctions), and March 2008 here.
The first set of UN sanctions was December 2006 with Resolution 1737, the second was in March of 2007 with Resolution 1747 and the third set was in March 2008 with Resolution 1803. (All PDF files)
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France actually stated publicly that if Iran didn't curb their nuclear ambition for weapons, they would face an attack.
Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, also spoke of imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran if the UN sanctions did not produce the desired results.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also weighed in saying Iran "faced a choice of either 'confrontation with the international community... or a transformed relationship with the world'."
Needless to say it is not only the United States and Israel that find the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran completely unacceptable.
In April of 2008, satellite imagery was produced showing Iran's secret launch site and at the end of 2007 the IAEA admitted that since 2006 they have not been able to verify information from Iran regarding their nuclear capabilities.
The New York Times published an article today saying the IAEA in an "unusually blunt and detailed report" is "concerned" about Iran's suspected research into the development of nuclear weapons and that Iran continued to owe the agency “substantial explanations.”
The nine-page report accused the Iranians of a willful lack of cooperation, particularly in answering allegations that its nuclear program may be intended more for military use than for energy generation.
The IAEA presented 18 documents to Iran that indicate Iranians have ventured into explosives, uranium processing and a missile warhead design.
“There are certain parts of their nuclear program where the military seems to have played a role,” said one senior official close to the agency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under normal diplomatic constraints. He added, “We want to understand why.”
Although the New York Times describes this as unusually blunt and detailed, this is not the first time it has been reported that the IAEA had evidence that Iran was continuing to work on plans for a nuclear weapon.
The Washington Post, in March of 2008, reported that the IAEA, in a private briefing, had Iranian documents that strongly suggested that Iran was working on a nuclear weapons design as recently as four years ago.
In that briefing with the diplomats from IAEA member states, Olli Heinonen, the IAEA's deputy director general, revealed that revealed that the IAEA had collected corroborating evidence, from the intelligence agencies of several countries, that pointed to sophisticated research into some key technologies needed to build and deliver a nuclear bomb.
Some documents showed research into modification of Iran's Shahab missile series, enabling them to detonate 600 meters above targets, which would only make sense, according to the experts, if the missile was carrying a nuclear warhead.
The New York Times, itself, reported in February, that the IAEA had confronted Iran with evidence that strongly suggested the country had experimented with technology to make nuclear weapons.
Back to today's article in the New York Times:
Iran insists that the evidence and documents gathered from multiple countries is "forged" or "fabricated".
The report makes no effort to disguise the agency’s frustration with Iran’s lack of openness. It describes, for example, Iran’s installation of new centrifuges, known as the IR-2 and IR-3 (for Iranian second and third generations) and other modifications at its site at Natanz, as “significant, and as such should have been communicated to the agency.”
The agency also said that during a visit in April, it was denied access to sites where centrifuge components were being manufactured and where research of uranium enrichment was being conducted.
According to David Albright who is a former weapons inspector who now runs the Institute for Science and International Security, "The Iranians are certainly being confronted with some pretty strong evidence of a nuclear weapons program, and they are being petulant and defensive. The report lays out what the agency knows, and it is very damning. I’ve never seen it laid out quite like this.”
The UN Security council has been incapable of passing any type of sanctions that have "teeth", in other words, sanctions that would be harsh enough to diplomatically force Iran to abandon their headlong rush in attaining a nuclear weapon.
China and Russia have been the weak links that have forced the previous sanctions to be watered down to the point of being ineffective and if something isn't done, very soon, there is going to ultimately be two options left on the table.
Either Iran will have nuclear weapons or someone is going to strike Iran to stop them from obtaining nukes.
Both options are unacceptable and yet the UN keeps dithering around and giving Iran the opportunity to force one of those unacceptable options to become reality.
The Middle East, throughout history, has been a volatile region, but should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, with their stated desire to "wipe Israel" off the face of the earth, a nuclear war in the Middle East will make today's problems seem like a day in the park on a sunny afternoon.
Many will disagree with me, but there is still time for diplomatic measures, sanctions with teeth, to force Iran to abandon their nuclear weapon ambitions, but not as long as China and Russia keep standing in the way of any meaningful sanctions.
Iran's nuclear ambitions has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT).
(Clarifying links have been added to this article)