October 11, 2008
The New York Times’ Judith Miller Elaine Sciolino has another ‘nuclear Iran’ scare story which immediately got picked up by other media:
International nuclear inspectors are investigating whether a Russian scientist helped Iran conduct complex experiments on how to detonate a nuclear weapon, according to European and American officials. As part of the investigation, inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency are seeking information from the scientist, who they believe acted on his own as an adviser on experiments described in a lengthy document obtained by the agency, the officials said. […]
Although officials would not say how they had obtained the new document, it was first publicly mentioned in an agency report in May as one of 18 documents presented to Iran in connection with suspected nuclear weapons studies. At the time it was described as a “five-page document in English” about experiments with a complex initiation system to detonate a large amount of high explosives and to monitor the detonation with probes. There was no indication that the document was a translation of a much longer, more comprehensive document in Farsi.
The original, Farsi document is described by officials familiar with it as a detailed narrative of experiments aimed at creating a perfectly timed implosion of nuclear material.
Wait a second: Iran, nuclear detonators and a Russian engineer? Where was that about? Oh yeah: “Operation Merlin.”
To be precise, [the Russian scientist] was carrying technical designs for a TBA 480 high-voltage block, otherwise known as a “firing set”, for a Russian-designed nuclear weapon. He held in his hands the knowledge needed to create a perfect implosion that could trigger a nuclear chain reaction inside a small spherical core. […]
The Russian, who had defected to the US years earlier, still couldn’t believe the orders he had received from CIA headquarters. The CIA had given him the nuclear blueprints and then sent him to Vienna to sell them — or simply give them — to the Iranian representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Gordon Prather did not believe Risen’s tale that this was an attempt to lead Iran on a false technical path. He argues that the whole story was simply an attempt by the CIA to plant evidence against Iran. Also here.
The U.S. sent a Russian scientist as an agent to Vienna with manipulated blueprints of special detonators to hand them to a delegate from Iran. Eight years later the IAEA gets handed material by the U.S. about special detonator experiments allegedly made in Iran.
Now Iran gets accused by U.S. and European ‘officials’ (note: NOT IAEA officials) of having worked or planed to work with such detonators based on a ‘secret’ long brief in Farsi of which the IAEA first only got handed a five page English copy.
I do smell a rat here — a big one. This is Iraq and ‘Niger papers’ all over.