Hidden Nuclear Drawings Found in Iran

The discovery of blueprints for a device used to enrich uranium has renewed Washington's suspicions of a covert nuclear program in Iran. Washington is considering referring Iran's nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Security Council. As the international community considers the most appropriate international response, investigators also want to uncover the source of the blueprints. Just last week, the President of Pakistan pardoned a top nuclear scientist involved in a nuclear proliferation network that supplied nuclear technology to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. It is still unclear, however, whether these specific blueprints were obtained from Pakistan. – YaleGlobal

Hidden Nuclear Drawings Found in Iran

U.N. inspectors find blueprints of high-tech equipment used to enrich uranium. The discovery renews U.S. suspicions of a covert nuclear program.
Sonni Efron
Friday, February 13, 2004

WASHINGTON - U.N. inspectors have discovered that Iran hid blueprints for a powerful device to enrich uranium in an apparent breach of Tehran's promise last year to disclose all of its nuclear activities, officials in Austria and Washington said Thursday.

The discovery of the concealed blueprints for a centrifuge, which can be used to enrich uranium for civilian reactors or nuclear bombs, raised questions about whether Tehran also has bought designs for a nuclear weapon from black market sources, the officials said.

Even if bomb blueprints are not found, Washington will discuss with its allies whether to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency – the U.N. nuclear watchdog – to refer Iran's nuclear activities to the United Nations Security Council for debate, U.S. officials said. Washington has not yet decided whether to advocate international sanctions against Iran and will await a report from the IAEA next week before deciding what course to take, they said.

''This is the smoking gun,'' said Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "They lied – again.''


Iran has maintained that its nuclear program has been strictly for civilian purposes. But Gregg Sullivan, spokesman for the U.S. State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, said that American ''policy and our sentiments are based on suspicion'' of the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Although the IAEA declared last year that Iran must make a complete declaration of all its nuclear activities, the United States thinks Iran continues to operate a secret effort to build nuclear weapons. John Bolton, the U.S. undersecretary of State for arms control, renewed the accusation Thursday at a security conference in Berlin.

''There's no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program,'' Bolton said.

Independent analysts said the finding of a newer type of gas centrifuge design, called a G-2, was significant evidence of Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Discovery of the blueprints was first reported Thursday in The Financial Times.


The G-2 centrifuge is a new model that can enrich bomb-quality uranium in half the time as the first-generation centrifuges that Iran previously admitted to having, Sokolski said in a telephone interview from London.

''This is like saying I prohibited you from having any motorized vehicles, and you declared your motor scooter, and I discovered you had a Ferrari,'' Sokolski said.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency found the G-2 centrifuge design in Iran while comparing material that Tehran purchased to goods that Libya acquired from a ''rogue'' proliferation network, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, a prominent Pakistani scientist, has admitted helping supply nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf last week but his network's activities remain under investigation.

Copyright 2003 Knight Ridder.