Friday 18 August 2017

'Soviet gave Iran help' in nuclear bomb goal

Alex Spillius in London

IRAN has acquired the know-how and material to build its first nuclear weapon with assistance from a former Soviet scientist, the UN's nuclear safety watchdog will disclose tomorrow.

A landmark report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will detail how specialists from Pakistan and North Korea have also helped take the Islamic regime to the threshold of full nuclear capability.

Tension has risen in the Middle East in anticipation of the report, amid suggestions that Israel may use it to justify a pre-emptive military strike against Iran.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, warned Israel yesterday that such action would be a "very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences".

Russia and China are also likely to oppose new, tougher UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, despite the IAEA making clear the extent of the regime's nuclear ambitions.

Its report will disclose that North Korea has provided mathematical formulas and codes for designing a nuclear device and that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the 'father' of Pakistan's atom bomb, has handed over plans for a neutron initiator, a key element in a bomb.

It will also say that the Iranians were aided for at least five years by a former Soviet scientist, alleged by 'The Washington Post' to be Vyacheslav Danilenko.

He was allegedly contracted in the mid-1990s by Iran's Physics Research Centre, a facility linked to its nuclear programme. There is no evidence that Moscow knew of this.

According to intelligence sources and documents provided by the Iranians, he helped design a generator used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.

The West also believes that Tehran has a blueprint for a nuclear device small enough to fit into a warhead, and has completed a steel container the size of a double decker bus in which the high-explosive element of such a device could be tested.

The UN's nuclear watchdog will detail how the regime plans to triple its capacity to enrich uranium to weapons grade at a facility deep inside a mountain near Qom, and is experimenting with detonators and neutron physics in a way that can only be for military purposes.

Strike

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, accused Israel and the United States yesterday of drumming up global support for a military strike on its nuclear facilities, which his country claims are for civilian and medical purposes only.

Mr Ahmadinejad added that Washington wanted to "save the Zionist entity, but it will not be able to do so".

His remarks came after Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, said: "The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option."

However a push for a fifth round of UN sanctions is more likely in the short term.

Britain and the US still believe Iran can be forced to back down but Israel will press the West to act robustly. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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