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Laptop Info Points to Iran’s Nuclear Threat

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Unread 04.27.08, 01:27 PM
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Laptop Info Points to Iran’s Nuclear Threat

Laptop Info Points to Iran’s Nuclear Threat

Reports have surfaced that a laptop computer with significant information on Iran’s covert nuclear program fell into the hands of U.S. intelligence in 2004.

The date is important, since in November 2007 the National Intelligence Estimate declared that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.

Olli Heinonen, deputy director of safeguards for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), briefed member states, including Iran, about the information in Vienna in February. Notes from the briefing have now been posted on the Internet by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C.

“The notes describe the technical basis for the IAEA’s outstanding questions about the scope and direction of Iran’s alleged nuclear weaponization studies,” ISIS states. “Specifically, it describes some of the information contained on a laptop obtained in Iran by an intelligence operation in 2004, as well as additional information provided by IAEA member states to the IAEA more recently.

“The information presented . . . describes several aspects of what could be nuclear weapons development.”

That information includes instructions on how to communicate within the Iranian program using only first names, and a reference to the “timing of firing devices leading to an explosion at an altitude of about 600 meters.”

Heinonen said at the briefing that “this altitude excludes the hypothesis of conventional explosives as well as chemical or biological charges,” according to the ISIS report.

The IAEA’s evaluation of Iran’s “Tests of High Power Explosives” is “unambiguous,” Gabriel Schoenfeld writes in his Connecting the Dots blog for Commentary Magazine:

“The high-tension firing systems and multiple EBW [Electrical Bridge Wire] detonators fired simultaneously are key components of nuclear weapons."
“There are a limited number of non-nuclear applications."
“The elements available to the Agency are not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon."
“The Agency does not have sufficient information at this stage to conclude whether the allegations are groundless or the data fabricated.”
Iran did assert that the allegations are “groundless” and called the documents cited “fakes,” according to ISIS.

But Schoenfeld concludes: “A consensus has emerged among Western intelligence agencies that [the documents] are in fact authentic.

"The documents do not indicate whether the covert nuclear program actually came to a halt in 2003 as U.S. intelligence has concluded. Nonetheless, the scale and scope of what Iran was doing up until that point is staggering.”

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