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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘yellowcake’

Middle Eastern Country Builds Nuclear Weapons

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The above photograph of the construction site near Dimona in the Negev desert for Israel’s then-secret nuclear reactor was taken in 1960. It is difficult to identify precisely who took that photo, but information in a draft U.S. Intelligence Board post-mortem strongly suggests that British and U.S. military attachés took it and similar photos.

It is likely that this is one of the photographs described on pages 13 and 14 of that report. The plainly visible reactor dome undermined Israeli claims that it was a textile factory under construction.

dimona 2

These images of the reactor site, some of them classified secret or confidential, are located in State Department records at the National Archives. (Record Group 59, Records of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy and Outer Space, General Records Relating to Atomic Energy, 1948-62, box 501, Country File Z1.50 Israel f. Reactors 1960)

This is Alan C. Goodison (1906-2006), trained as an Arabist, worked on Israeli nuclear matters at the British Foreign Office’s Eastern Department in the mid-1960s. He coordinated the analysis and distribution of the sensitive Canadian intelligence report on the Argentine yellowcake sale to Israel. Goodison is shown in 1983 when he became Ambassador to Ireland.

Crown copyright image from collection of Foreign and Commonwealth Office history staff.

Crown copyright image from collection of Foreign and Commonwealth Office history staff.

This is Walworth Barbour (1908-82), U.S. ambassador to Israel 1961-73. He presided over the effort by U.S. diplomats and CIA officers to learn what Israel had done with the yellowcake.

Image from Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, RG 59-SO.

Image from Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, RG 59-SO.

For the full story, check out:

The Israel-Argentina Yellowcake Connection.

Of course, in the end, no one thought Israel was building a nuclear weapon in order to attack or even just intimidate its Arab neighbors. The world understood that Israel had to have the doomsday option because a billion Arabs out there wanted it destroyed. Israel and the U.S., at least officially, believe that Iran’s case is different, because Iran is not a democracy, and because Iran has actually declared numerous time that it wants death to Israel and death to America (still a popular chant in Tehran).

In the end, the West’s chances of actually stopping Iran — not very high. The best they can hope for is a more democratic Iran with nukes that won’t use it to intimidate its neighbors.

I wonder what would happen if Israel suddenly declared that it understands Iran’s fears of its hostile Sunni neighbors, and removes its objections to an Iranian bomb. It’s worth it just to watch the Saudis’ faces go deep red and then, possibly, explode…

‘Moderate’ Rouhani Misled West, Sneaked in Centrifuges?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is the timeline Rouhani refers to in the video.  If he is telling the truth – and there is no obvious reason why he would lie about the timing he refers to – the timeline he outlines for bringing Iranian centrifuge cascades online in substantial numbers makes a poignant contrast with the reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the time.

The contrast highlights just how in the dark IAEA was during this period, at least about the centrifuges.  (It’s also worth highlighting, in general, the timeline of what was going on during the EU-brokered negotiations Rouhani refers to in the video.)  Certainly, many in the West had an uneasy suspicion that, by the end of 2005, Iran may have accomplished more than IAEA was officially aware of.  But, as late as February 2006, IAEA acknowledged the following decisive condition:

Due to the fact that no centrifuge related raw materials and components are under Agency seal, the Agency is unable effectively to monitor the R&D activities being carried out by Iran except at the [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant],* where containment and surveillance measures are being applied to the enrichment process.

Rouhani’s timeline

The full timeline from the video develops as follows.  Rouhani summarizes it between the time hacks of 3:45 and 4:30.  His overall allusion is to the period from October 2003 to August 2005, when he was the chief negotiator for the Iranian nuclear program.

His initial discussion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr contains no surprises; it is couched in the following terms:

- First phase of Bushehr project completed – Beginning of 2004

- Next phase completed – Fall of 2004

These references are presumably to Russia’s completion of facility construction, which was noted at the time in Western reporting.

- Project completed – March 2005

This is probably a reference to an agreement between Russia and Iran, concluded in February 2005, under which Moscow would supply the enriched-uranium fuel for the light-water reactor at Bushehr.  (See here as well for a summary from 2006 alluding to the 2005 agreement.)

iran-nuc-facs

So far, so good.  Next, Rouhani speaks of the heavy-water reactor, or the plutonium reactor at Arak.

- “Production” started at the heavy-water plant – Summer of 2004

Construction of the reactor was begun in June of 2004, but Rouhani here appears to be referring to the heavy-water production plant (HWPP), a particular component of the Arak reactor system, which reportedly began operation (i.e., the production of heavy water) in November 2004.

In this walk back through the Iranian nuclear program, it is worth recalling what the official line was about Arak at the time, in the big middle of the EU-3 talks with Iran:

Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday. …

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had created a “confidence deficit” by concealing parts of its atomic program for nearly two decades and urged Tehran to improve its transparency and cooperation with U.N. inspectors. A concluding statement from this week’s IAEA governing board meeting said the 35 members unanimously said it was “essential that Iran provide full transparency and extend proactive cooperation to the agency.” …

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/moderate-rouhani-misled-west-sneaked-in-centrifuges/2013/08/11/

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