Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Iran Nuclear "Alleged Studies" Documents: The Evidence of Fraud

Gareth Porter 
[sic]December 31st, 2009
For the past few years, a political consensus has formed in the United States that Iran is covertly pursuing a nuclear-weapons program under the cloak of a civilian nuclear-power program. That conclusion has been based largely on a set of supposedly purloined top-secret Iranian military documents describing just such a covert program during 2002-03. The documents have often been referred to as the "laptop documents," but they include documents in both electronic and paper form and were called the "alleged studies" documents by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

The documents in this collection, which the United States obtained from sources that still remain a mystery, portray three main activities: a pair of "flow sheets" showing a process for uranium conversion, a set of experiments on "exploding bridgewire" (EBW) technology similar to that used on early designs for the U.S. atomic bomb, and studies on the redesign of the reentry vehicle, or nose cone, of the Shahab-3 missile to accommodate what appears to be a nuclear weapon.

International news media have portrayed the alleged-studies documents as credible evidence of a covert Iranian nuclear-weapons program. Some senior officials of the IAEA believed from the first, however, that the documents were "fabricated by a Western intelligence organization," according to two Israeli authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javadanfar, based on their interviews with several IAEA officials during 2005 and 2006.1 David Albright, the executive director of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), worked for the IAEA in the 1990s and was well acquainted with the Safeguards Department director from 2005 until early 2010, Olli Heinonen. Albright confirmed in a 2008 interview that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's office "considers the documents as forgeries."2 Moreover, journalist Mark Hibbs has identified the agency's Department of External Relations and Policy Coordination as another source of skepticism within the agency over the authenticity of the documents.

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