Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Claims on Iran Nuclear Program

Salon.com today carries a post on Iran’s nuclear program, which originally appeared in Der Spiegel. Claims made in the article cannot be verified, but their appearance at this time in Spiegel is significant, and are referenced here for purpose of discussion and comments by our readers.

After an extensive internal investigation, IAEA officials concluded that a computer obtained from Iran years ago contains highly volatile material. The laptop reached the Americans through Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and was then passed on to the IAEA in Vienna.

Reports by Ali Reza Asgari, Iran's former deputy defense minister who managed to defect to the United States, where he was given a new identity, proved to be just as informative. Nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who "disappeared" during a pilgrimage to Mecca in June 2009, is also believed to have particularly valuable information. The Iranian authorities accused Saudi Arabia and the United States of kidnapping the expert, but it is more likely that he defected.

Iran's government has come under pressure as a result of the new charges. They center on the question of who exactly is responsible for the country's nuclear program -- and what this says about its true nature. The government has consistently told the IAEA that the only agency involved in uranium enrichment is the National Energy Council, and that its work was exclusively dedicated to the peaceful use of the technology.

But if the claims are true that have been made in an intelligence dossier currently under review in diplomatic circles in Washington, Vienna, Tel Aviv and Berlin, portions of which SPIEGEL has obtained, this is a half-truth at best.

According to the classified document, there is a secret military branch of Iran's nuclear research program that answers to the Defense Ministry and has clandestine structures. The officials who have read the dossier conclude that the government in Tehran is serious about developing a bomb, and that its plans are well advanced. There are two names that appear again and again in the documents, particularly in connection with the secret weapons program: Kamran Daneshjoo and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Please click on the link to read the entire article.

1 comment:

Mark Pyruz said...

The contention by the West (and being put forward by certain media outlets) is no longer centered around an actual nuclear weapons program. That contention, lacking the required evidence, failed to provide a means of effectively leveraging Iran. So the new contention is now shifting toward potential weapon research.

The two contentions are different. On the one hand, you have a program in progress where the goal is dead set on the production of a bomb. On the other, you have in place the research necessary to weaponize, in the even of a national security crisis- i.e. another imposed war by a foreign aggressor. This represents the so-called "Japan option." It would effectively prevent the type of invasion Iraq suffered in 2003.

In the past, the so-called "laptop of death" was discounted by the IAEA as unreliable, by at least a majority of those involved in the rendering. However, with a change of leadership, this rendering is subject to change due to internal politics. Needless to say, if the "laptop of death" is anything like the "nuclear trigger document", it should remain suspect. For their part, the Iranians haven't even been allowed to view the entire content of the laptop, for which they're expected to provide an explanation. How reasonable is that?

And, a new NIE is said to be in the works; this time emphasizing possible research over that of an established weapon program intent on actual production.

As usual, the West continues to move the nuclear "goalposts" on this issue of contention.