VIENNA (AP) — A U.N. agency is providing the strongest evidence yet that Iran is trying to build a nuclear arsenal.
The report from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency says for the first time that Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments with the sole purpose of developing nuclear arms.
The report comes as Israel threatens a military response. And it opens the way for a new confrontation between the west and Iran.
Iran is accused of secretly getting the equipment and design information needed to make the weapons. The report says Iran tested high explosives and developed detonators to set off a nuclear charge, and created computer models of the core of a nuclear warhead.
The Iranians are also said to have taken steps to prepare for a nuclear weapons test, and developed and mounted a nuclear payload onto its intermediate-range missile -- a weapon that can reach Israel.
Ahead of the release of the report, Israel's defense minister warned of a possible Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear program.
Iran's official news agency, meanwhile, is dismissing the report, saying it "repeats the past claims" by the U.S. and Israel.
(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)