Details from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report regarding the Iranian nuclear program continue to leak. Intelligence provided to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency shows that Iran has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
According to the intelligence, Iran appears to have received crucial technical assistance from foreign experts, the newspaper reported, citing Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings by the IAEA.
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The Washington Post said the report's findings provide new details on the role played by former Soviet weapons scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko who allegedly tutored Iranians on high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.
Crucial technology linked to experts in Pakistan and North Korea also helped propel Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability, the nuclear experts said.
Nuclear reactor in Natantz (Photo: AFP)
Danilenko was described as a key element who helped 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.
His’s role was judged to be so critical that IAEA investigators devoted considerable effort to obtaining his cooperation, the newspaper said. The scientist acknowledged his role but said he thought his work was limited to assisting civilian engineering projects, the sources said.
There is no evidence that Russian government officials knew of Danilenko’s activities in Iran.
The IAEA report indicates that Iran purchase sensitive nuclear technology and may be able to quickly assemble a bomb if it chose to.
Nevertheless, the Washington Post reported that US officials fear an exaggerated reponse to the report as the US feels it has sufficient time to convince Tehran to change its behavior.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinajed on Sunday issued his first response to reports of a possible Israeli strike on Iran and talk of fresh sanctions.
The United States fears Iran's growing military power because it is now able to compete with Israel and the West, he said. Iran is increasing in capability and advancement and therefore we are able to compete with Israel and the West and especially the United States," he added.
Ahmadinejad added: "It is Israel that has about 300 nuclear warheads. Iran is only keen to have nuclear capability for peaceful means."
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report
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