"As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever." - Reagan, January 20, 1981

"In Vietnam, we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. It should mean we will not fail again." - from No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon

Monday, April 19, 2010

Iran's Nuclear Weapons program began in 1986 or 1987 - Spies and Former allies

There are 3 solid sources for my estimate

1. A CIA mole inside the Revolutionary Guard

Kahlili started working as a computer specialist in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shortly after the 1979 revolution. But when a childhood friend and his younger brother and sister were executed in Evin prison two years later, he decided to become a spy.

Throughout his double life, he sent letters to his CIA handlers and received coded messages from them hidden in the text of radio broadcasts.

In 1985, he told his handlers that Iranian spies in Iraq and Europe had learned that Saddam Hussein was buying equipment on the black market for a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Ayatollah Khomeini won’t let it go unanswered,” Kahlili’s bosses in the Revolutionary Guard told him.

One year later, Iran signed a “consulting” agreement with Pakistani nuclear bomb designer A.Q. Khan, whose network provided them with uranium enrichment centrifuges and bomb designs.

“I am appalled that the information I passed on did not help the US government to prevent Iran from expanding its power,” Kahlili said. “IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai asked permission from Khomeini to develop nuclear weapons. That was one of the most significant bits of news I passed on.”


2. Pakistani documents authored by arch WMD proliferator and Pakistan's atomic Godfather AQ Khan

The father of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program has written an official account that details an Iranian attempt to buy atomic bombs from Pakistan at the end of the 1980s and also conflicts with the Pakistani government's assertion that bombmaker Abdul Qadeer Khan proliferated nuclear know-how without government approval.

Khan states in documents obtained by The Washington Post that in lieu of weapons, Pakistan gave Iran bomb-related drawings, parts for centrifuges to purify uranium and a secret worldwide list of suppliers. Iran's centrifuges, which are viewed as building blocks for a nuclear arsenal, are largely based on models and designs obtained from Pakistan.

...

Khan's 11-page narrative, prepared in 2004 during his initial house arrest, states that "at no time did I seriously believe that they [Iranians] were capable of mastering the technology." But Western intelligence officials say his assistance was meaningful and trace its roots to a deal reached in 1987.

Pakistan has said little about that deal. Iran later told international inspectors that a Pakistani "network" in 1987 offered a host of centrifuge-related specifications and equipment, and turned over a document detailing how to shape enriched uranium for use in a bomb.

Pakistan's intelligence service sought to explain the cooperation partly by noting that "due to religious and ideological affinity, Pakistanis had great affection for Iran." But Khan also cited Iran's promise of financial aid, as well as the government's ambition of forever thwarting Western pressure on both countries.

"It was a deal worth almost $10 billion that had been offered by Iran," Khan wrote.

Khan's account and related documents were shared with The Post by former British journalist Simon Henderson, now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The intelligence service's summary said Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a former army chief of staff who was arguably Pakistan's most influential figure, was "in favour of very close cooperation [with Iran] in the nuclear field in lieu of financial assistance promised to him toward Pakistan's defense budget."

Khan's written statement to Henderson states that after Shamkhani's arrival in Islamabad on a government plane, he told the chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff committee that "he had come ... to collect the promised nuclear bombs."

When the chairman, Adm. Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, proposed to discuss other matters first and then "see how Pakistan could assist the Iranians in their nuclear program," Shamkhani reportedly became irate, Khan wrote. He reminded Sirohey that "first Gen. Zia [ul Haq, the Pakistani president until 1988] and then Gen. Beg had promised assistance and nuclear weapons and he had specifically come to collect the same."

Although Pakistan exploded no nuclear bombs until 1998, the U.S. intelligence community concluded it had the capability to make weapons by 1986.

Shamkhani, a founding leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, was long active in the country's nuclear program, according to U.S. officials. A longtime defense minister and presidential candidate in 2001, he now runs a Tehran think tank.

Khan said that after hearing Shamkhani's demand for three finished weapons, Sirohey demurred and that other ministers backed him up. But Beg pressed then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her top military aide "to honour [Beg's] ... commitment," Khan wrote.

Under pressure, the aide asked Khan to "get components of two old [P-1] discarded machines and pack them into boxes with 2 sets of drawings," which were passed to Iran through an intermediary, he said. P-1 is the designation for the centrifuge model used in Pakistan.


3. An investigation report supporting an indictment Argentina filed against Iran for terrorist attacks - the report detailing former Argentine regimes' of the 1980s dealings with Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear and missile programs

The report identifies three distinct agreements reached between Argentina and Iran in 1987-88. The first involved help in converting a nuclear reactor in Tehran so that it could use 20%-enriched uranium (ie, low-grade uranium that cannot be used for weapons production) and indicates that it included the shipment of the 20%-enriched uranium to Iran. The second and third agreements were for technical assistance, including components, for the building of pilot plants for uranium-dioxide conversion and fuel fabrication.

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