Iranian scientists – with Russian help – have set up two sites to use laser technology to enrich uranium for the regime’s nuclear bomb program, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit.
The Russians had argued that due to IAEA monitoring and Western countries’ lurking satellites, it would be wise to use lasers to enrich uranium as, the source added, it is 16 times more productive, requires less space and energy, and is much easier to hide.
In 2010, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that Iran possessed laser enrichment technology, but the regime refused to respond to demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency to explain its laser program.
The IAEA in a visit to a laboratory in Lashka Abad, Iran, in 2003 had noticed work on laser isotope separation but could not determine the full extent of Iran’s research and development with laser enrichment technology.
Hans Ruhle, the German nuclear weapons expert, in a commentary published in the daily Die Welt last May, argued that Iran can enrich uranium using laser technology, which would be more difficult to detect. He also stated that American spy agencies in 2000 discovered a pilot program for laser enrichment between Iran and the Russian D.V.-Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg.
The laser technology SILEX (separation of isotopes by laser excitation) is used to separate uranium isotopes and refine fuel-grade uranium to weapons grade in fewer steps and, since it produces no distinctive chemical or thermal emissions, make nuclear proliferation easier.
“Laser enrichment technology provides the Iranian nuclear weapons program with a highly efficient means of producing weapons grade uranium (WGU) using a process that is relatively easily concealed and yet potentially can deliver more WGU faster than the now-public gas centrifuge enrichment sites at Natanz and Fordow,” said Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C.
“As the IAEA has been seeking verification about Iran’s laser enrichment program since 2003 while the Iranian regime consistently has obfuscated and stalled for time, the maturity and scope of its laser enrichment pathway to a nuclear bomb must remain a serious concern,” she said.
“The Iranian intelligence service learned well its denial and deceit tactics from the Russian KGB, whose response to discovery of the massive Biopreparat biological weapons program in the early 1990s, for instance, was to open wide certain installations to international view – while hiding away its real, continuing program at other secret sites. The same pattern of behavior is evident with the opening of the Natanz enrichment facility to IAEA inspections while other enrichment sites, including laser enrichment facilities, likely remain undetected and uninspected.”
According to the source, one of the two sites using laser technology for the nuclear bomb program is in the city of Bonab in Iran’s East Azarbaijan province.
The project at this site started two years ago under Dr. Ali Rad, but as of several months ago, Dr. Mohammad Ghanadi Maraghe, the current vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, manages the project.
Maraghe has a B.S. in Chemistry from Iran’s University of Tabriz, an M.S. in Nuclear Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Radiochemistry from Britain’s University of Salford and worked as a professor of Radioisotopes, Nuclear Fuel Cycle, at Tehran Polytechnic University.
He is joined by two Russian scientists and one North Korean scientist at the site, which is dubbed “Neynava.”
An elevator provides access to the underground facility, which is approximately 21 feet below the ground and where work is being done on uranium enrichment.
The source added that the Russians provided the plan for the site and that Russian scientist Dr. Vyacheslav Danilenko has been central to Iran’s nuclear bomb program.
Danilenkov, born in the Ukraine, worked on miniaturizing detonations at a nuclear installation in Chelyabinsk during the Soviet era and specializes in nano-diamonds.
Despite reports by the IAEA and others, he has denied involvement in Iran’s nuclear program.
The source said Danilenkov owned a house north of Tehran until three months ago when he sent his family back to Russia. He has been given a private driver and an intelligence agent as a bodyguard while in Iran.
Herman Nackaerts, the deputy head of the IAEA, along with his team, held two days of talks with their Iranian counterparts in Tehran last week but failed to get an agreement for further inspection and verification of the Islamic regime’s nuclear program.
Just two days after the recent talks with the IAEA officials, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s delegate to the IAEA, stated publicly that Iran will not stop uranium enrichment even “for a moment.”
The 5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) hope to resume talks with Iran over its illicit nuclear program. The talks ended last year after regime officials refused to negotiate.
The regime is enriching uranium to the 20 percent level at two known sites – Natanz with over 10,000 centrifuges and Fordo with over 2,700. The 20 percent level can be further enriched to weaponization grade within weeks. The regime currently has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs, if further enriched.
Sources in the Islamic regime previously have revealed exclusively to WND the existence of a secret nuclear site in Najaf Abad, a list of Iranian scientists working on the nuclear bomb, a secret uranium enrichment site in Khondab where the Russians and North Korean scientists are helping with Iran’s nuclear bomb program, and the secret bio-weapons site in Marzanabad where, with the help of Russia, Iran has mastered production of eight microbial agents, arming its missiles with biological warheads.