Citing anonymous Western diplomats and nuclear experts familiar with new intelligence to be released to the United Nations, the newspaper said a former Soviet weapons scientist had allegedly tutored Iranians on building “high-precision detonators” that can be used to “trigger a nuclear chain reaction.”
The comments come days before a crucial report is expected to be published by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which is expected to release findings on the Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, heightening international suspicions of the Iranian relationship with the West and fuelling Middle East tension.
An intelligence update will be circulated among IAEA members on Tuesday or Wednesday. It is expected to focus on Iran’s alleged efforts toward putting radioactive material in a warhead and developing missiles.
Iranian officials have already seen the Vienna-based IAEA’s information, diplomats told AFP, and Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in comments published in Iran on Sunday that it was based on “counterfeit” claims.
However, Western officials said the intelligence reinforced concerns that Iran continued to conduct weapons-related research after 2003 when, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, Iranian leaders halted such experiments in response to international and domestic pressures, The Post said.
The R265 generator and Soviet scientist Danilenko
The device is a hemispherical aluminum shell that is lined with pellets of high explosives and electrically wired so the detonations occur in split-second precision, the report said. The explosions compress a small sphere of enriched uranium or plutonium to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.
Creating such a device is a formidable technical challenge, and Iran needed outside assistance in designing the generator and testing its performance, the paper said.
According to the intelligence provided to the IAEA, key assistance in both areas was provided by Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist who was contracted in the mid-1990s by Iran’s Physics Research Center, the paper said.
Danilenko offered assistance to the Iranians over at least five years, giving lectures and sharing research papers on developing and testing an explosives package that the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design, said The Post, citing two officials with access to the IAEA’s confidential files.
Ahmadinejad: Israel has nukes, not Iran
“It is Israel that has about 300 nuclear warheads. Iran is only keen to have nuclear capability for peaceful means,” he said, accusing Washington of lumping Iran with Syria, the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The U.S. portrays those four as “the Axis of Evil to save the Zionist entity. But the Zionists are bound to go out of existence,” he said.
Ahmadinejad also talked of Iran’s growing military power, which has fueled fear from the United States that Iran is now able to compete with Israel and the West, he said.
“Yes, we have military capabilities that are different from any other country in the region,” Egyptian daily al-Akhbar cited Ahmadinejad as saying. “Iran is increasing in capability and advancement and therefore we are able to compete with Israel and the West and especially the United States.”
“The U.S. fears Iran’s capability,” he told the paper. “Iran will not permit anyone making a move against it.”
He accused Washington of inventing conspiracies to discredit Iran and sowing discord with its near neighbor Saudi Arabia, referring to the alleged assassination plot of the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
“Iran is farthest from thinking of carrying out such crimes, but the U.S. is always inventing conspiracies against Iran,” Ahmadinejad said.
“The U.S. fears any friendship between us and Saudi Arabia and therefore incites disagreements,” he said. “To stop the U.S. in its tracks we must deepen the elements of friendship ... We are ready for this and the relation between Saudi and Iran already exists and has not been cut off.”