Powered by WebAds

Monday, November 07, 2011

IAEA: Iran on the verge

The Washington Post continues the leaks of the IAEA report on Iran. According to the report, which is based upon interviews with Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings, Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles.
Documents and other records provide new details on the role played by a former Soviet weapons scientist who allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials and experts said. Crucial technology linked to experts in Pakistan and North Korea also helped propel Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability, they added.

The officials, citing secret intelligence provided over several years to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the records reinforce concerns that Iran continued to conduct weapons-related research after 2003 — when, U.S. intelligence agencies believe, Iranian leaders halted such experiments in response to international and domestic pressures.


But some of the highlights were described in a presentation by Albright at a private conference of intelligence professionals last week. PowerPoint slides from the presentation were obtained by The Washington Post, and details of Albright’s summary were confirmed by two European diplomats privy to the IAEA’s internal reports. The two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, in keeping with diplomatic protocol.

Albright said IAEA officials, based on the totality of the evidence given to them, have concluded that Iran “has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core. In the presentation, he described intelligence that points to a formalized and rigorous process for gaining all the necessary skills for weapons-building, using native talent as well as a generous helping of foreign expertise.

“The [intelligence] points to a comprehensive project structure and hierarchy with clear responsibilities, timelines and deliverables,” Albright said, according to the notes from the presentation.

According to Albright, one key breakthrough that has not been publicly described was Iran’s success in obtaining design information for a device known as an R265 generator. The device is a hemispherical aluminum shell with an intricate array of high explosives that detonate with split-second precision. These charges compress a small sphere of enriched uranium or plutonium to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.

Creating such a device is a formidable technical challenge, and Iran needed outside assistance in designing the generator and testing its performance, Albright said.

According to the intelligence provided to the IAEA, key assistance in both areas was provided by Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist who was contracted in the mid-1990s by Iran’s Physics Research Center, a facility linked to the country’s nuclear program. Documents provided to the U.N. officials showed that Danilenko offered assistance to the Iranians over at least five years, giving lectures and sharing research papers on developing and testing an explosives package that the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design, according to two officials with access to the IAEA’s confidential files.

Danilenko’s role was judged to be so critical that IAEA investigators devoted considerable effort to obtaining his cooperation, the two officials said. The scientist acknowledged his role but said he thought his work was limited to assisting civilian engineering projects, the sources said.

There is no evidence that Russian government officials knew of Danilenko’s activities in Iran. ­E-mails requesting comment from Russian officials in Washington and Moscow were not returned. Efforts to reach Danilenko through his former company were not successful.

Iran relied on foreign experts to supply mathematical formulas and codes for theoretical design work — some of which appear to have originated in North Korea, diplomats and weapons experts say. Additional help appears to have come from the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, whose design for a device known as a neutron initiator was found in Iran, the sources said. Khan is known to have provided nuclear blueprints to Libya that included a neutron initiator, a device that shoots a stream of atomic particles into a nuclear weapon’s fissile core at the start of the nuclear chain reaction.
The report also concludes - surprise - that Iran never stopped developing nuclear weapons from 2003-07, as was claimed by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which took the military option on Iran out of George W. Bush's hands. Someday, when there's time, an investigation ought to be opened into who was behind that report and why.

Labels: , ,


At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the article; "The device is a hemispherical aluminum shell with an intricate array of high explosives... These charges compress a small sphere of enriched uranium or plutonium to trigger a nuclear chain reaction." ------------- I don't know about anyone else that reads this blog, but this was known about in 2007 or 2008. I remember reading about the plans that Iran gave the IAEA by mistake, that showed how to build the trigger. Do you? Also I am going to refer you again to what the IAEA said in January 2006 about Iran, only being a few months away from having a nuke. ELBARADEI: Sure. And if they have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponization program along the way, they are really not very far - a few months - from a weapon. add the www. iaea.org/newscenter/transcripts/2006/newsweek12012006.html I think that information should be included in every report on Irans nuclear program. Because since that interview, we have found at least 3 nuclear facilities that were hidden.


Post a Comment

<< Home