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Graph suggests Iran working on bomb

By George Jahn

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:40 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2012

VIENNA » Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by The Associated Press.

The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran's nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.

The International Atomic Energy Agency — the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog — reported last year that it had obtained diagrams indicating that Iran was calculating the "nuclear explosive yield" of potential weapons. A senior diplomat who is considered neutral on the issue confirmed that the graph obtained by the AP was indeed one of those cited by the IAEA in that report. He spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.

The IAEA report mentioning the diagrams last year did not give details of what they showed. But the diagram seen by the AP shows a bell curve — with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy both in kilotons — the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons. The curve peaks at just above 50 kilotons at around 2 microseconds, reflecting the full force of the weapon being modeled.

The bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima in Japan during World War II, in comparison, had a force of about 15 kilotons. Modern nuclear weapons have yields hundreds of times higher than that.

The diagram has a caption in Farsi: "Changes in output and in energy released as a function of time through power pulse." The number "5'' is part of the title, suggesting it is part of a series.

David Albright, whose Institute for Science and International Security is used by the U.S. government as a go-to source on Iran's nuclear program, said the diagram looks genuine but seems to be designed more "to understand the process" than as part of a blueprint for an actual weapon in the making.

"The yield is too big," Albright said, noting that North Korea's first tests of a nuclear weapon were only a few kilotons. Because the graph appears to be only one in a series, others might show lower yields, closer to what a test explosion might produce, he said.

The senior diplomat said the diagram was part of a series of Iranian computer-generated models provided to the IAEA by the intelligences services of member nations for use in its investigations of suspicions that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran denies any interest in such a weapon and has accused the United States and Israel of fabricating evidence that suggests it is trying to build a bomb.

Asked about the project, Iran's chief IAEA delegate, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said he had not heard of it. IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said the agency had no comment.

Iran has refused to halt uranium enrichment, despite offers of reactor fuel from abroad, saying it is producing nuclear fuel for civilian uses. It has refused for years to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency's efforts to investigate its program.

Iran's critics fear it could use the enriched uranium for military purposes. Such concerns grew this month when the IAEA said Iran is poised to double its output of higher-enriched uranium at its fortified underground facility — a development that could put Tehran within months of being able to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

In reporting on the existence of the diagrams last year, the IAEA said it had obtained them from two member nations that it did not identify. Other diplomats have said that Israel and the United States — the countries most concerned about Iran's nuclear program — have supplied the bulk of intelligence being used by the IAEA in its investigation.

"The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency," the IAEA said at the time.

The models were allegedly created in 2008 and 2009 — well after 2003, the year that the United States said Tehran had suspended such work in any meaningful way. That date has been questioned by Britain, France, Germany and Israel, and the IAEA now believes that — while Iran shut down some of its work back then — other tests and experiments continue today.

With both the IAEA probe and international attempts to engage Iran stalled, there are fears that Israel may opt to strike at Tehran's nuclear program. The Jewish state insists it will not tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear arms.

An intelligence summary provided with the drawing linked it to other alleged nuclear weapons work — significant because it would indicate that Iran is working not on isolated experiments, but rather on a single program aimed at mastering all aspects of nuclear arms development.

The IAEA suspects that Iran has conducted live tests of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon at Parchin, a sprawling military base southeast of Tehran. The intelligence summary provided to the AP said data gained from those tests fed the model plotted in the diagram. Iran has repeatedly turned down IAEA requests to visit the site, which the agency fears is undergoing a major cleanup meant to eliminate any traces of such experiments.

The intelligence summary named nuclear scientists Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Majid Shahriari and Fereidoun Abbasi as key players in developing the computer diagrams, adding that Shahriari and Abbasi were also involved in the Parchin testing.

Iran has for years rebuffed IAEA attempts to question Fakhrizadeh for his suspected involvement in secret programs. Shahriari was assassinated in 2010 by what Iran says were Israeli agents. Abbasi, now the head of Iran's nuclear agency, was wounded in a separate assassination attempt the same day that Shahriari was killed.

The senior diplomat, who is familiar with the Iran probe, said the agency has not yet determined any connection between Parchin and the computer models. But Olli Heinonen, who headed the IAEA's Iran investigation until 2010, said using the results of the alleged Parchin tests would "make sense as part of the design and testing of a (computer) model."

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HD36 wrote:
It's a good thing Israel has over 200 nuclear missles already.
on November 27,2012 | 07:25AM
cojef wrote:
Appeasement, like Lord Neville Chamberlain to the Nazis, resulted in WWII and nuclears bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Are we waiting for the Armageddon?
on November 27,2012 | 07:49AM
allie wrote:
Israel is behind the report and who knows if it is accurate. The report was issued to manipulate US opinion. Let Israel start fighting and paying for their own wars. Please leave us alone. We need to rebuild our own country!
on November 27,2012 | 07:52AM
Denominator wrote:
Isolationism has never worked before. Ignoring bad people does not make them go away.
on November 27,2012 | 08:25AM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
allie is proof of that
on November 27,2012 | 09:28AM
allie wrote:
that is so mean!
on November 27,2012 | 09:59AM
cunfuzd4 wrote:
no it is not. It is...ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!
on November 27,2012 | 01:16PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Another anti-Israel comment.
on November 27,2012 | 09:32AM
allie wrote:
Has Iran invaded anyone? Has the uSA? Check the facts hon and don't be duped.
on November 27,2012 | 10:04AM
false wrote:
The same media who dutifully carried false intelligence about Iraq's WMD programs are uncritically serving the same function here. Is the document genuine? I dunno, neither does the S-A editor who decided to carry this story. The source is likely Israel, hardly a reliable source. And if the document is genuine, what does it really show? That some Iranian scientists are interested in understanding how to build a nuclear weapon? Their are nuclear scientists, professors and graduate students all around the world who study nuclear weapons technology. Do they they want to have knowledge to build such weapons? Of course, but that is a different question than saying they are actively developing the weapons.

To set aside the propaganda which distorts consideration of this question, imagine another country facing neighbors with nuclear weapons. Why would they NOT be looking at getting such weapons for themselves? In addition to Israel, a country with a history of taking "bold" military actions against its neighbors, Indian, Pakistan and China all have nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran is ringed by US military bases, a fact which is rarely mentioned in American news accounts. And nuclear armed ships cruise the Persian Gulf. And prominent US politicians have called for military attacks on Iran.

In this context, it would be irresponsible, almost to the point of treason, for Iran's scientists to not study how to build their own nuclear capabilities. This is counter-balanced by their need to not give Israel or the United States an excuse to launch a war against them. So they walk a very uncomfortable line. While Israel, the United States and articles in the Star-Advertiser saber-rattle against them.

Nuclear weapons are not only "deterrents" for the US, Britain, France, Russia, India, and Pakistan. Iran has plenty of reasons to want to deter foreign aggression, lest some fool singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" gets their finger on the nuclear button.

on November 27,2012 | 08:40AM
Denominator wrote:
You omit the fact that Iran has pledged to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.
on November 27,2012 | 09:03AM
allie wrote:
That is a myth. Please look up the facts. They never declared war at all or threaten Israel. Israel hates and threatens them. What Iran's outgoing president said that was Palestinians would eventually reclaim their land as demography is on their side, they will eventually greatly outnumber the illegal colonizers, etc. USA has been taken for a ride by israel for far too long! Let them fight and pay for their own wars.
on November 27,2012 | 10:03AM
allie wrote:
False is spot-on! You can be sure cynical Israeli agents leaked this information (misinformation?) to the press to cook up more war sentiment. Sorry guys but count USA out. WE are broke and have suffered enough for Israeli interests. Put our own interests first!
on November 27,2012 | 10:01AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Looking at that formula I think they forgot to carry the 3.
on November 27,2012 | 08:40AM
DABLACK wrote:
Research and eliminate the treat ASAP should be the mantra for Israel. Hate to see our troops get involved. They stretched too thin as it is !! North Korea is waiting for chance to move their agenda should some distraction happens in Iran.
on November 27,2012 | 10:05AM
juscasting wrote:
Didn't really like relgion in high school and college, caught many zzz's during the classes, but weren't the Israelites the original peeps from the region during like the Moses and JC days? So who was their first?
on November 27,2012 | 12:46PM
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