Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Iran's Russian Connection

At the time in June 2002, little attention was paid to General Yuri Baluyevsky's incredible assertion that Iran already had nuclear weapons. The Russian Deputy Chief of Staff stated at a press conference in Moscow, "Iran does have nuclear weapons. These are non-strategic nuclear weapons." Russia had an interest in Iran's nuclear progress. It was then building 6 six nuclear reactors for Iran-- four at Bushehr and two at Akhvaz-- as well as a uranium-conversion plant, and providing assistance for its ballistic missile program. This provided General Baluyevsky a vantage point to assess 6 pieces of the Iran jigsaw not available to the United States.

1) Whether or not the Russian-engineered uranium-conversion plant could be used for uranium enrichment.

2) Since Iranian centrifuges made indigenously in Iran — not imported gear — showed traces of on enriched uranium with a purity level of 36 percent U-235 that matched the atomic signatures of the 36% uranium used in Russian submarines, was Russia the source of this 36% enriched uranium for Iran.

3) If so, could the Russian 36% U-235 could be raised by Iranians to weapon-grade U-235 with either centrifuges or the laser isotope separating system and had Iran acquired such technology from Russia .
4) Since Polonium 210-- an isotope used by Russian scientists (in combination with beryllium) to ensure the chain reaction leading to a nuclear explosion begins at the right time-- was detected in Iran, was Russia the source of Iran's Polonium 210.

5) A defecting Iranian nuclear scientist had claimed in 1998 that Iran had attempted to use Russian criminal intermediaries to buy four tactical nuclear weapons and enriched uranium from Kazakhstan. Was there any basis to this claim.
6) Has Iran managed to weaponize the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile with a warhead?

Of course, General Baluyevsky may have conjured up the picture of Iran's tactical nukes out of thin air. If not, did he based his assessment on the answer to some or all of these questions.

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