Archive Siezed by Israel Shows Iran Had Foreign Help In Nuclear Weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents material on Iranian nuclear weapons development during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Monday, April 30 2018. Netanyahu says his government has obtained "half a ton" of secret Iranian documents proving the Tehran government once had a nuclear weapons program. Calling it a "great …
AP/Sebastian Scheiner

TEL AVIV – Israel has revealed new details about the nuclear documents stolen from Iran earlier this year, including information that Iranian scientists were helped by various foreign sources, new reports quoting Israeli intelligence officials said. 

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a dramatic presentation of the 100,000-plus files stolen from a warehouse near Tehran that he said proved Iran lied about its nuclear program.

The New York Times on Sunday cited unnamed nuclear experts as saying Tehran’s nuclear program “was almost certainly larger, more sophisticated and better organized” than initially suspected. The Times‘ reporter, together with journalists from the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, were shown key documents from the trove at the behest of the Israeli government.

The Iranian files made repeated mention of a substance called uranium deuteride, used to make neutron initiators. According to experts cited by the Times, uranium deuteride has no use apart from the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

Iran was also said to have received assistance in their warhead design efforts from foreign experts. One of the countries that provided major assistance was Pakistan.

Other files recounted Iran’s challenges in affixing a nuclear warhead to its existing long-range missiles. Tehran eventually abandoned that enterprise.

“It’s quite good,” Robert Kelley, a nuclear engineer and former inspector for the IAEA, told the Times after being shown some of the trove. “The papers show these guys were working on nuclear bombs.”

According to the three reports, the documents reinforce Israel’s assertion that even after signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran has maintained its goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The files mention Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a member of the “Council for Advanced Technologies” that approved the nuclear weapons program, the Washington Post said. 

Iran “was on the cusp of mastering key bombmaking technologies when the research was ordered halted” in 2003, the Post said.

The reports also released details on the Mossad’s seizure of the archive in six and a half hours, with one official comparing it to the heist from Oceans 11.

The Mossad operatives used powerful torches to burn their way through dozens of giant safes, officials said.

Israel unveiled the trove days before President Donald Trump announced that he was imposing crippling sanctions against Iran.


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