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Iran has design drawings for building a 400-metre (more than 1,300 feet) deep shaft that is clearly for underground, possibly nuclear, weapons testing, diplomats told AFP Wednesday.
A Western diplomat said the design for the underground shaft, with sensors in it to be connected "to a control center 10 kilometres (six miles) away" was "clearly designed for some underground testing," and that this could be nuclear although the design did not indicate that this was for atomic weapons testing.
The information was part of extensive Farsi-language computer files and reports which the United States has obtained and feels is the best sign yet that Iran seeks to make nuclear weapons.
The IAEA was first briefed on this last July.
US officials are confident the data is genuine, diplomats said, even though some analysts have criticized it as unreliable since it is believed to come from only one source.
The data concerns a program called Project 111 under which the Iranians have also studied how to design a ballistic missile to handle a load that is not named as a possible nuclear warhead. The word "nuclear" is not mentioned in any of the Project 111 documents.
But the "package" could only be for this purpose due to the height at which the missile is set to explode on re-entry, diplomats said.
"The shaft design was part of Project 111," the Western diplomat said.