The International Atomic Energy Agency has just released what is being called “the most damning report ever published” by the U.N. watchdog. The evidence in the report shows that Iran has a secret enrichment program, is simulating nuclear explosions, working on nuclear triggers, and developing a nuclear warhead. The report even says that Iran has made preparations for an underground nuclear test.
The IAEA report focuses on the Parchin military base 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran. The base has hundreds of buildings, tunnels and bunkers and IAEA inspectors are not allowed to visit. It is here that Iran is carrying out tests to simulate nuclear explosions. In 2003, one large test of high-explosives was done to assist with the development of a nuclear warhead that can be fitted onto a Shahab-3 ballistic missile. There is a chamber designed for a test of up to 70 kilograms of high explosives, a suitable amount for a nuclear explosion.
Iran has obtained the designs for a nuclear weapon and is actively working on a warhead. As of 2006, it was working on neutron initiators, often referred to as the “nuclear trigger” for setting off a nuclear explosion. There is no civilian application for this device. In 2008 and 2009, Iran was researching how to make the core of a warhead where the bomb fuel is stored. There have also been computer simulations of nuclear explosions. A Russian scientist named Vyacheslav Danilenko taught the Iranians how to develop nuclear triggers, test nuclear weapons and develop a warhead from 1996 to 2002.
The IAEA also discloses Iran’s “Green Salt Project,” a secret uranium enrichment project hidden from U.N. inspectors. The program’s objective is to acquire uranium in order to create the nuclear warhead. The underground Fodor site near Qom, which was revealed in 2009, is part of this project. The mountain-based site is designed to hold 3,000 centrifuges, far from what is necessary for a domestic energy program but enough for nuclear bomb production. The report says at least 412 centrifuges have been installed there and it also houses a stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
Iran is even preparing for an underground nuclear weapons test. The IAEA has obtained Iranian government documents in Farsi discussing the necessary logistics for such a test. One document from 2008 mentions the existence of a 400 meter shaft about 6 miles from the “firing control point.” The report concludes that Iran could make a nuclear bomb in the matter of months.
The IAEA’s revelations come shortly after a former member of the Revolutionary Guards who spied for the CIA, Reza Kahlili, brought renewed attention to reports that Iran already has a nuclear arsenal.
Yossef Bodansky, who served as the Director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare from 1988 to 2004 and authored “Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America,” presents the most detailed account of Iran’s alleged acquisition of nuclear weapons. In his book, “The High Cost of Peace,” he alleges that in the summer of 1991, the Iranian regime ordered its intelligence service to scour the former Soviet Union to search for nuclear weapons. It made contact with officials in Kazakhstan, and the Iranians sent a delegation to the country in early September.
The Kazakhs agreed to provide disassembled nuclear weapons and a team to help reassemble them after their arrival in Iran. The deal was finalized in December 1991, with Iran agreeing to purchase two 40-kiloton nuclear warheads, one aerial nuclear bomb for a MiG-27 and one 152-mm nuclear artillery shell. These weapons arrived in Iran and became operational by mid-1992. The aerial bomb was stored at the Shahid Babai Base in Isfahan. Bodansky claims that the Iranians envisioned using it in a nuclear suicide attack on a U.S. carrier by a North Korean-trained pilot. The two warheads went to a base in Lavizan in Tehran.
According to an account in Ken Timmerman’s “Countdown to Crisis,” Iranian Revolutionary Guards Major-General and future presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai led the delegation to Kazakhstan. His story likewise states that the weapons were disassembled and brought to Tehran, but that key parts were missing. The Iranians reached out to North Korea for help in filling the gaps, which proved more difficult than anticipated to fill.
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