Elaine Sciolino From The NYT:
PARIS — 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.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way, said that the document appeared authentic, without explaining why, but they made it clear that they did not think the scientist was working on behalf of the Russian government.
Iranian officials have said repeatedly that the documents the agency is using in its investigation of Iran’s past nuclear activities are fabrications or forgeries, and that any experiments were not related to nuclear weapons.
Iran has said the same about the new evidence, although the agency has not shown the full document to government officials in Tehran. Instead, Iran has been given only five pages of excerpts that have been translated from Farsi into English.
The Western officials said that the conditions under which the inspectors obtained the document prohibited them from revealing it in full to the Iranians, out of fear that doing so could expose the source of the document.
Arms Control Wonk says it may be the “Operation Merlin” plot, recycled:
The story dates back to the Clinton administration and February 2000, when one frightened Russian scientist walked Vienna’s winter streets. The Russian had good reason to be afraid. He was walking around Vienna with blueprints for a nuclear bomb.
To be precise, he 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. It was one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world, providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia from rogue countries such as Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short.
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).
See Don’t Bomb Iran for more.
Irancove @ October 20, 2008