Is Iran producing a potent nuclear bomb? Leaked computer diagram raises doubts (Commentary)
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Is Iran producing a potent nuclear bomb? Leaked computer diagram raises doubts (Commentary)

Tehrān : Iran | Nov 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM PST
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Iran Nuclear Issue: Secret Negotiations; Supreme Leader Signals Talks Possible

Report By: Nina Rai

Tehran, Nov., 28, 2012:

Iranian scientists, despite repeated denials by their nation, could be on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb three times more potent than the one that wiped out Hiroshima during World War II, according to an undated computer diagram.

The leaked graph indicates Iranian scientists have run computerized simulations for a mega-bomb. The rough sketch was released by an unidentified nation against Iran’s nuclear program, most likely to impede Tehran's progress in uranium enrichment before it reached a stage where a nuclear bomb would be produced. The officials who initially provided the diagram did so only on the condition that neither they nor their country be named.

The diagram shows a bell curve with variables of power and energy in kilotons and time in microseconds. This is the conventional measurement of any energy output, thereby indicating the destructive power of nuclear weapons. With the curve peaking at a little over 50 kilotons at approximately 2 microseconds in the graph, it clearly indicates the full force of the weapon being modeled at 50 kilotons (approx.) at two microseconds after detonation.

It may be noted that the atom bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima in 1945, killing roughly 140,000 people, had an explosive force of about 15 kilotons. Nuclear weapons in the present day have yields hundreds of times higher than that. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed in 2011 that it had diagrams as proof that Iran was calculating the “nuclear explosive yield” of potential weapons.

However, the IAEA did not then furnish details about what the diagrams showed. Meanwhile, the diagram obtained by the Associated Press had the number 5 as part of its title, indicating that it is one of a series.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) is an agency whose service is used by US government as a go-to source pertaining to Iranian nuclear program. David Albright of the ISIS opined that the diagram appears authentic. However, he said that it looks to be structured more “to understand the process” rather than as part of a blueprint for manufacturing an actual nuclear weapon. According to Albright the power of the weapon in the graph is too big, whereas when North Korea first tested nuclear devices those were barely a few kilotons.

Since the diagram appears to be one in a series, the following ones might indicate lower yields, closer to what a test explosion might produce, he added. Furthermore, the senior diplomat informed that the diagram was part of a series of Iranian online-generated models made available to the IAEA by the intelligence agencies of member nations. These diagrams would then be utilized by the IAEA while investigating allegations of Iran attempting to produce a nuclear weapon.

Iran has consistently denied having any interest in possessing such a weapon, but it is not taken seriously by the US or its close ally Israel. Tehran, in turn, has accused the duo of cooking up evidence to make it look like it is trying to produce a bomb. When asked about the project, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's main delegate to the IAEA, denied hearing about it. IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor too declined to comment on the matter.

Despite sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, Iran has refused to buckle. It has not stopped its uranium enrichment program even though it is getting offers of reactor fuel from abroad. The Islamic Republic says it is producing nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes only. So far has not co-operated even with the UN nuclear agency to investigate its program.

Meanwhile, Iran's detractors believe its enriched uranium would be diverted for producing weapons of mass destruction. Their fears grew this month when the IAEA informed that Iran is all set to double the output of higher-enriched uranium at its heavily guarded underground facility. This development could put Tehran within months of being in a position to produce the core of a nuclear warhead.

Last year, the IAEA reported having in its possession the critical Iranian diagrams, stating that it had obtained the same from two member nations which it did not identify. According to some diplomats, Israel and the US have provided the majority of the intelligence utilized by the IAEA in its investigations, as the two nations are the ones most concerned about Iranian nuclear program.

At that point in time the IAEA stated the “application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency.” The prototypes were apparently created in 2008 and 2009—long after 2003, the year when America declared that Tehran had suspended such activity in any significant way.

Even in 2003, US allies such as the UK, France, Germany and Israel had expressed their doubts on that score. The IAEA, the world’s nuclear watchdog, now believes that while Iran closed down some of its work at that point in time, it continues with other tests and experiments today.

The current scenario is that both the IAEA investigation and international attempts to negotiate with Iran are hanging in midair. The major concern is that a jittery Israel might choose to attack Iran’s nuclear sites unilaterally. It is only the US that is holding it in leash presently, with Tel Aviv always proclaiming that it will never allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

What is significant is an intelligence summary given that contains drawings linked to other alleged nuclear weapons work. The summary also names Iranian nuclear scientists Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Majid Shahriari and Fereidoun Abbasi as major players in developing the computer diagrams. This would mean that Iran is not working on isolated experiments, but rather focusing on one program aimed at mastering all aspects of nuclear arms development.

The IAEA believes Iran has carried out live demos of conventional explosives at Parchin, which could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon there. Parchin is a massive military complex located southeast of the Iranian capital Tehran. According to one intelligence summary the data gathered from those live tests were routed into the model plotted in the diagram. Apparently, scientists Shahriari and Abbasi were part of the Parchin testing.

Iran has consistently refused to co-operate with the IAEA, even turning down its requests to visit the site. The world agency believes the Parchin site is undergoing a major clearing up and revamp with the sole purpose of wiping off any traces of such nuclear experiments.

Opinion:

It is difficult to accept at face value what is ascribed to in the undated, leaked diagram and reach a definitive conclusion that Iran is indeed on the verge of producing a potent nuclear bomb. The source for this diagram is an unidentified country and it is said the diagram was leaked by unnamed officials of that country, which is critical of Iran’s atomic program.

This makes dubious the claims made about the diagram. After all, why should the officials providing the diagram refuse to give their names and that of their country? Also, the evidence presented in the form of a diagram looks suspect.

Moreover, the undated, leaked graph is only one page in a longer report on nuclear arms in Iran, clearly indicating its part of a larger document. Therefore it needs to be studied and analyzed as a whole. This kind of report based on a mere diagram is nothing short of a rumor or gossip with intent to start a war.

Any war in today’s times, they fail to realize would most certainly result in deaths of thousands which would reach dangerous proportions if sleeping giants Russia and China took umbrage and sided with Iran, the result would be utter chaos.

Besides, no less a person than David Albright, a senior official at The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and highly valued by the US, said that the diagram was created to understand the process. It is not an actual blueprint for producing chemical weapons.

This should lay at rest the clamor of all the hawkish elements and warmongers and instead allow the moderate elements to negotiate and broker peace between Israel and Iran, which is the best option forward for normalcy in the region.

Sources: Daily Mail / Associated Press

Do check reports on Iran, Israel:

Netanyahu 'wasted $3bn’ on imaginary Iran war plan, accuses former Israeli PM

Pro-Iran group hacks IAEA site, demands probe into Israeli nukes

Israeli DM: Iran’s uranium use for civilian purposes, ‘delays’ war by eight months

Iran warns US after targeting Predator drone for airspace violation (Commentary)

Israel, Iran hold ‘positive and respectful’ nuclear talks at Brussels

Israel’s PM Netanyahu had ordered military strike on Iran in 2010

Iran suspends its uranium enrichment, then backtracks: Commentary

US and Israel indignant as German delegation arrives in Iran

UK thinks US strike on Iran would be illegal, denies access to bases

French FM's bombshell: Iran appears on course for nukes by mid-2013

Iranian President denied permission for prison visit, hits out at judiciary

Single largest US-Israel military exercise to test missile barrage scenario

Iran compiling fissile material for 4-6 bombs: Obama’s bombshell to Israel

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Scott Lucas discusses the secret negotiations between US officials and representatives of Iran's Supreme Leader, and the possibility of future talks to make genuine progress over the stalled nuclear issue.
Nina Rai is based in Mangaluru, Karnataka, India, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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