“Western analysts hesitate to call secret Iran documents ‘smoking gun’”

“Western analysts hesitate to call secret Iran documents ‘smoking gun’”
December 14, 2009
     Catherine Philp reports that confidential Iranian documents detail a 4-year plan to test a triggering mechanism known as a neutron initiator using uranium deuteride (UD3), which is used exclusively for nuclear weapons. The documents have been dated to early 2007 and are described as the “strongest indicator yet” that Iran has pursued a nuclear weapons program after 2003, the year in which Iran halted its nuclear weapons program according to the oft-cited 2007 US NIE. The documents, the timeline of which suggests that this program could be ongoing, have been seen by Western intelligence agencies and the IAEA, and their publication will likely increase pressure for additional sanctions on Iran (The Times).
     ISIS, which provided an assessment for the Times report, describes the difficult and time-consuming process of testing the neutron initiator and cautions that the documents do not necessarily describe a program authorized to build nuclear weapons (ISIS). The Iranian document suggests the use of substitute compounds for UD3 to conduct testing without leaving telltale traces of uranium (The Times (2)). Jeffrey Lewis notes that UD3 is a “relatively novel source of neutrons” that has been explored by China and Pakistan, the latter notably in a program involving AQ Khan (Arms Control Wonk).
The Times | ISIS | The Times (2) | Arms Control Wonk

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