Chart said to show Iran work on nuclear bomb.
Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear bomb that would produce triple the force of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a chart obtained by The Associated Press.
The AP said the chart (above) was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program to bolster arguments that Iran's nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the chart to the AP only on condition that they and their country
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported last year that it had obtained charts 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 one of those cited by the IAEA in that report.
The IAEA report mentioning the diagrams last year did not give details of what they showed. But the chart obtained by the AP shows a bell curve--with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy 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 chart 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 the diagram is one in a series.
David Albright, who leads the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said the graph 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 chart 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.
In reporting on the charts last year, the IAEA said it had obtained them from two member nations. Other diplomats have said that Israel and the United States have supplied the bulk of the intelligence being used by the IAEA.
The IAEA said at the time: "The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency."
The models were allegedly created in 2008 and 2009--well after 2003, the year the CIA said Tehran suspended actual work on a nuclear warhead. 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 continued.
The IAEA suspects Iran has tested a detonator for a nuclear weapon at Parchin, a sprawling military base southeast of Tehran. An intelligence summary provided to the AP with the graph said data gained from those tests fed the model plotted in the chart.
The intelligence summary named nuclear scientists Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Majid Shahriari and Fereydun Abbasi-Davani as key figures in developing the computer charts.
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-Davani, injured in a separate assassination attempt the same day, is now the head of Iran's nuclear agency.
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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|Publication:||Iran Times International (Washington, DC)|
|Date:||Nov 30, 2012|
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