The Belfer Center has published a report on an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, a large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos.  A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018. The documents are said to show that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; Iran made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs.  This brief report summarises the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s programme and questions that remain open.  It says, amongst other things, that the archive not only permits a more intimate and authoritative look at Iran’s nuclear programme and its progress – but also suggests some worrying implications for the non-proliferation regime.  Re foreign involvement, Iran was known to have ties to the A.Q. Khan nuclear black-market network, and it was already known that one expert from the Soviet nuclear weapons programme.  The archive reveals that Iran managed to recruit many more foreign scientists, and according to Israeli officials, over a dozen individuals, from various areas of expertise and from multiple countries, played a role.  It is said that Iran had an extensive effort to procure equipment and materials abroad for its programme, but the authors say that they did not have the opportunity to explore the procurement issues in detail.  It says that one important procurement-related question is how Iran acquired the uranium metal casting and machining equipment it intended to install in an underground tunnel.  One document mentions a budget allocation for purchase of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) abroad.  However, the report says that no evidence of state-level foreign support was seen for the development or procurement elements of the programme.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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