New Evidence Shows That Iran Was Closer to Building a Nuclear Bomb Than Previously Thought

October 25, 2018 | David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Olli Heinonen, Frank Pabian
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In April, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli operatives had spirited a vast, secret archive relating to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program out of the country and brought it to Jerusalem. Having studied the documents that have been made public, David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Olli Heinonen, and Frank Pabian conclude that Tehran has been carrying out research necessary for the development of a nuclear bomb at a military facility in Parchin, and that this research was more advanced than experts had believed. If so, the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and the current regimen of inspections are not preventing the Islamic Republic from continuing on its path to the bomb:

Iran’s stark aim, in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and contrary to its signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, contradicts the finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in December 2015 that Iran’s nuclear-weapons activities had not gone beyond feasibility and simple scientific studies. . . .

The archive provides the public its first look inside the Parchin nuclear weapons-development facility and at the type of nuclear weapons-related activities that took place at the site, [and it includes] confirmation that Iran was testing . . . a specialized, difficult-to-develop, neutron initiator to start the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion. The new information about Parchin . . . shows that Iran conducted far more high-explosive tests at the site than previously understood. It may have maintained some of the equipment for later use, and did in fact resume (elsewhere) some of those activities related to nuclear-weapons development under a new organizational structure. . . .

More broadly, at issue remains [the question of] whether Iran is simply preserving, curating, and improving its nuclear-weapons capabilities, awaiting a decision to reconstitute a full-blown nuclear-weapons program at a later date, if such a political decision is made. Its failure to destroy all of these documents, and purportedly, the equipment used in these activities, does not align with its commitment under the nuclear deal “that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons.”

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