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IAEA errs on "foreign expert" in Iran n-programme

An outside view of the U.N. building with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, office inside, in Vienna, Austria, in this file photo.   | Photo Credit: Ronald Zak

The latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran appears to have falsified information about a Russian scientist who allegedly helped Tehran advance its nuclear weapons programme.

The report published by a U.S. think tank on Tuesday said that a former Soviet N-bomb physicist had assisted Iran in building a detonation device that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

However, Russian media have found out that the scientists had never worked in nuclear physics but was a leading expert in the production of diamonds by explosion.

The Soviet scientist was not named in the IAEA report but the Kommersant daily easily identified him as Vyacheslav Danilenko, a pioneer in developing the technology of producing nanodiamonds by explosion. Nanodiamonds are used in the manufacture of lubricants and rubber.

Contacted by the newspaper, the 76-year-old scientist, now retired, refused to discuss his work in Iran, saying only: “I’m not a nuclear physicist and I’m not a father of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

His former colleague confirmed Mr. Danilenko’s words. Vladimir Padalko, head of a company producing nanodiamonds, said experts from the IAEA and the U.S. State Department had interviewed him several times about Mr. Danilenko’s work in Iran.

“I explained to them that nanodiamonds have nothing to do with nuclear weapons,” Mr. Padalko told Kommersant.

He confirmed that Mr. Danilenko did work in Iran in the second half of the 1990s: “He worked there on nanodiamonds and read lectures, which later became the basis for a monograph on the subject.”

The Russian newspaper quoted a source close to Rosatom, Russian nuclear energy Corporation, as saying that Mr. Danilenko’s work could have helped Iranian nuclear scientists.

“The nanodiamond technology is indeed a narrow specialised field, but some of Danilenko’s expertise, for example, related to gas dynamics and shock waves, could be helpful in constructing nuclear explosives,” the unidentified expert said.

However, the fact remains that Mr. Danilenko is not a nuclear physicist and has never worked in the field of nuclear weapons, contrary to the claim made in the IAEA report.

‘Strong indications’

The IAEA report, quoted by the InterPress Agency, says the agency has “strong indications” that Iran's development of a high explosions initiation system” for a nuclear weapon, was “assisted by the work of a foreign expert who was not only knowledgeable on these technologies, but who… worked for much of his career in the nuclear weapon programme of the country of his origin.”

The IAEA’s claim was apparently based on the fact that Mr. Danilenko had worked at the Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics in Snezhinsk, which was best known as Russia’s leading nuclear weapons facility, but which was also involved in development of nanodiamond technology.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 7:27:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/iaea-errs-on-foreign-expert-in-iran-nprogramme/article2615436.ece

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