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    Entries in iranian nuclear threat (7)

    Wednesday
    Dec162009

    Secret document exposes Iran's nuclear trigger

    The Times-(Catherine Philip) Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.

    The notes, from Iran's most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.

    An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 - specifically, work on a neutron initiator.

    The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan's bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.

    "Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application," said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has 
    analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. "This is a very strong indicator of weapons work."

    The documents have been seen by intelligence agencies from several Western countries, including Britain. A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that they had been passed to the UN's nuclear watchdog.

    A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said yesterday: "We do not comment on intelligence, but our concerns about Iran's nuclear programme are clear. Obviously this document, if authentic, raises serious questions about Iran's intentions."

    Responding to The Times' findings, an Israeli government spokesperson said: "Israel is increasingly concerned about the state of the Iranian nuclear programme and the real intentions that may lie behind it."

    The revelation coincides with growing international concern about Iran's nuclear programme. Tehran insists that it wants to build a civilian nuclear industry to generate power, but critics suspect that the regime is intent on diverting the technology to build an atomic bomb.

    In September, Iran was forced to admit that it was constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. President Ahmadinejad then claimed that the wanted to build ten such sites. Over the weekend Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, said that Iran needed up to 15 nuclear power plants to meet its energy needs, despite the country's huge oil and gas reserves.

    Publication of the nuclear documents will increase pressure for tougher UN sanctions against Iran, which are due to be discussed this week. But the latest leaks in a long series of allegations against Iran will also be seized on by hawks in Israel and the US, who support a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first warhead.

    Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: "The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution."

    The Times had the documents, which were originally written in Farsi, translated into English and had the translation separately verified by two Farsi speakers. While much of the language is technical, it is clear that the Iranians are intent on concealing their nuclear military work behind legitimate civilian research.

    The fallout could be explosive, especially in Washington, where it is likely to invite questions about President Obama's groundbreaking outreach to Iran.  The papers provide the first evidence which suggests that Iran has pursued weapons studies after 2003 and may actively be doing so today - if the four-year plan continued as envisaged.

    A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that weapons work was suspended in 2003 and officials said with "moderate confidence" that it had not resumed by mid-2007. Britain, Germany and France, however, believe that weapons work had already resumed by then.

    Western intelligence sources say that by 2003 Iran had already assembled the technical know-how it needed to build a bomb, but had yet to complete the necessary testing to be sure such a device would work. Iran also lacked sufficient fissile material to fuel a bomb and still does - although it is technically capable of producing weapons-grade uranium should its leaders take the political decision to do so.

    The documents detail a plan for tests to determine whether the device works - without detonating an explosion leaving traces of uranium detectable by the outside world. If such traces were found, they would be taken as 
    irreversible evidence of Iran's intention to become a nuclear-armed power.

    Experts say that, if the 2007 date is correct, the documents are the strongest indicator yet of a continuing nuclear weapons programme in Iran. Iran has long denied a military dimension to its nuclear programme, claiming its nuclear activities are solely focused on the production of energy for civilian use.

    Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."

    Friday
    Dec042009

    Iran successfully simulates nuclear warhead detonation - report DEBKAfile Special Report

    German intelligence reports that Iranian scientists have successfully simulated the detonation of a nuclear warhead in laboratory conditions, in an effort to sidestep an underground nuclear test like the one that brought the world down on North Korea's head earlier this year. DEBKAfile's Iranian and intelligence sources report that this development is alarming because detonation is one of the most difficult technological challenges in the development of a nuclear weapon. Mastering it carries Iran past one of the last major obstacles confronting its program for the manufacture of a nuclear warhead.

    After this breakthrough, the German BND intelligence believes it will take Tehran no more than a year to perfect its expertise and stock enough highly-enriched uranium to make the last leap toward building the first Iranian nuclear bomb or warhead. DEBKAfile's military sources confirm that simulated detonation of a warhead takes Iran to the highest level of weapons development.

    Using the example of Israel and other nations, Western nuclear arms experts have claimed in recent years that since the emergence of simulated detonation technique, nuclear tests are no longer necessary.

    With this hurdle overcome, Tehran has set about restructuring its defense ministry for the coming task of actually making a weapon.

    The new Department for Expanded Technology Applications - FEDAT was set up to speed up the military nuclear program. It is divided into sub-departments for uranium mining (to increase the output of the Yazd mines), enrichment (to guarantee the quantity of high-grade uranium needed for weapons), metallurgy, neutrons, highly explosive material and fuel supply.

    Wednesday, Dec. 2, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "The Iranian nation will by itself make the 20 percent (nuclear) fuel (enriched uranium) and whatever it needs."

    President Barack Obama has reminded Tehran that it has until the end of the year for a negotiated accommodation on its nuclear program that will uphold its international obligations. However, tor Iran's leaders, progress toward a nuclear weapon is now unstoppable by any diplomatic means.

    Wednesday
    Dec022009

    Russia to sign up to Sanctions on Iran

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will join any consensus on moresanctions against Iran, a senior Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday after Tehran declared it would expand nuclear activity in defiance of a U.N. rebuke.

    It was a thinly veiled Russian warning to Iran of waning patience with its failure to allay fears it aims to develop atom bombs in secret, and hinted that Iran could no longer rely on Russia to stop tougher world action against it.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced defiance on Tuesday, saying sanctions would have no effect and that no more talks on the nuclear dispute were needed with the West. Speaking on state television, he also criticized Russian action.

    Governors of the U.N. nuclear agency passed a resolution on Friday censuring Iran for covertly constructing a second enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its IAEA-monitored one atNatanz, and demanding a construction halt.

    Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites -- a pledge that Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday was "not a bluff".

    Iran's announcement had been in retaliation for the 25-3 vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors, which sailed through with unusual Russian and Chinese support.

    "If there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside," said the Russian diplomatic source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

    By referring to "consensus", Russia could be leaving itself an escape hatch since China has been the most resistant to punitive steps against Iran among the six world powers.

    The source made clear Moscow would not move so fast to embrace harsher sanctions as the United States and EU powers, who want to act early next year if Tehran has not begun fulfilling IAEA demands for nuclear restraint and transparency by then.

    "We will be thinking about sanctions but this is not an issue of the next few hours or weeks," he said.

    Russia did not want to complicate the situation with threats against Iran.

    "We would rather have Iran cooperating more openly and consistently with the IAEA and showing clear steps to lift concerns -- which are gaining greater foundation -- than introducing sanctions against Iran," the source said.

    AHMADINEJAD RESPONSE

    In his televised comments, Ahmadinejad dismissed the threat of sanctions and warned any "aggressor" against Iran.

    "Sanctions will have no effect. Aggressors will regret their action as soon as they put their finger on the trigger," he said.

    Israel has hinted at the possibility of attacking Iranian facilities if it deems diplomacy at a dead end.

    Ahmadinejad said Western attempts to isolate Iran were in vain and he criticized Russia.

    "Russia made a mistake by backing the anti-Iran resolution and we believe that their analysis in this regard was incorrect," he said.

    The Russian source said Iran's plan for 10 more enrichment plants did "not add optimism to talks", in a reference to talks with Tehran revived in October but stalled by disputes.

    The United States and its allies fear Iran will divert its declared civilian nuclear energy program to yieldingatomic bombs, not electricity. Tehran says it has no such intention.

    Concerns have deepened over Iran's retreat from an October deal in principle that would see its low-enriched uranium -- which is potential fissile material for bombs -- sent abroad for processing into fuel for a nuclear medicine reactor in Tehran.

    "The situation surrounding the agency is stormy now. We have a lot of difficult challenges," new IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told reporters on his first day in office after succeeding Mohamed ElBaradei. Amano declined to elaborate.

    IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said Iran had not yet informed the U.N. nuclear inspectorate directly of its new enrichment plans and that it would seek clarification from Tehran.

    Western diplomats and analysts believe the new enrichment plan may be largely bluster, possibly a negotiating gambit by Iran, and would take many years if not decades to execute.

    But analysts said the risk remained of Iran using an array of above-board civilian enrichment plants to camouflage one or two small covert sites geared to enriching uranium to the high purity suitable for nuclear warheads.

    (Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran; Andrew Hammond in Dubai; Sylvia Westall in Vienna; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Charles Dick)

     

    Sunday
    Nov292009

    Is Iran going to catch a cold?

    Iran continues its brazen path of defiance and sticks two fingers up to the West. How long can this go on for?

    The headlines are incredible:
    - Announcement today that Iran is going to start building 10 further uranium enrichment facilities-even though the rest of the world is at the end of its tether with Iran's current enrichment program?

    -The statement that Iran is going to provide funding of $20Million to support terror networks in the west and to investigate alleged U.S. and British human rights abuses and plots against Iran?

    - The confiscation of the Nobel peace prize from Shirin Ebadi, human rights lawyer involved in exposing the illegality of the recent Iranian elections.

    The days of control by Ahmadinejad and his fellow cronies, must surely be numbered. The shoots of the new Green movement in Iran are starting to take hold.

    Lets give their supporters all the help we can by standing up to this crazy Islamist regime. Check out http://twitter.com/IranVote and follow JINewsNet at www.twitter.com/jinewsnet  (or visit www.jinewsnet.com)

     

    Sunday
    Nov292009

    Iran gov't earmarks $20 million to support militant groups 

    (haaretz) Iranian state radio reported Sunday that the country's parliament has approved a bill earmarking $20 million to support militant groups opposing the West. 

    It was not immediately clear which groups would receive funding from Iran, but Tehran already backs the Islamic militants Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. 

    The report says the money will also be used to investigate alleged U.S. and British human rights abuses and plots against Iran.  

    State radio said Sunday a committee that includes representatives from the intelligence and foreign ministries will decide how to divide the budget. 

    The move is seen as a reaction to U.S. and British criticism of Iran's violent crackdown on protests after the disputed June presidential election