Secret' Report Details Iranian Nuclear Plans
by Maurizio Molinari La Stampa 28 Jun 97 p 10
Rome -- Iran will soon be in a position to launch a nuclear attack:
In five or, at most, seven years from now Tehran will have at its disposal
a nuclear bomb and missiles with a range of 3,000 km thanks to the Russians
and to the Chinese. This is revealed in a top secret [preceding two words
published in English] report, the result of cooperation among Western
intelligence services, of which La Stampa has obtained a copy.
The typewritten document, 10 pages long, provides an update to 1997 of
the development of Iran's nuclear program, regarding the pursual of which
Sayyed Katami, the Islamic Republic's newly elected president, will be
required to take a stance. "Iran's opportunity to endow itself with a
nuclear weapon is the result of the decision to promote research and
production in several locations simultaneously," the report states.
The first such location is Isfahan, the country's second city. The
Iranian Organization for Atomic Energy run by Reza Amrollahi has put
together a team of physicists, chemists, engineers, and electronics experts
in a building located in the suburbs. The team has been tasked with
finalizing "Projeh Vijeh" (the "Special Project"), in other words with
producing the bomb by getting hold of explosives, detonators, and
electrical component parts. In other areas around Isfahan, Reza Amrollahi
has concentrated laboratories for the treatment of nuclear materiel and for
the enrichment of uranium. According to diplomatic sources, the plan to
spread out the research centers was put in place in order to hinder the
possibility of an aerial bomb attack designed to destroy them.
small research reactors made in China are located in Isfahan. One of these works on the principle of
natural uranium and heavy water and is seen as the pilot project that, it
is planned, will make it possible to manufacture plutonium. But Tehran
has asked for assistance from Beijing also in its efforts to procure
enriched uranium through the construction of plants designed to convert the
mineral itself. The uranium is mined in mines located in the Yiazd region.
If Isfahan is the city of the scientists, it is in Busher, only a
short distance from the Persian Gulf, that the actual nuclear power station
itself is taking shape thanks to the Russians. Moscow joined the game when
Germany's Siemens, that began work on the project in the Shah's time back
in 1974, withdrew under pressure from Bonn. Also Argentina, Spain, and
China refused to continue with the construction work, putting forward
reservations regarding the risks of overlapping between Siemens' original
structures and those that they would have put in place. Moscow, however,
did not need to be asked twice.
The first part of the power station, known as IRAN-1, is designed to
have an output capacity of 1,000 megawatts at a final cost of $800 million
(some 1.3 trillion lire). It is being built by the Russian firm Zarubezh
Atomernergostroy but it was Atomic Energy Minister Nikitovich Mikhaylov who
pressed for a nuclear pact with Tehran. Mikhaylov and Amrollahi have now
begun to discuss also the construction of the second part of the power
station, known as IRAN- 2. The liaising is being done by Oleg Davidov, a
former Russian deputy prime minister, who is following the program and its
funding. It was Davidov who signed the contract for the nuclear program in
Tehran two years ago, a contract that is due to expire in 2005. Since then
Davidov has made several trips to Iran and it was to him that the
ayatollahs' regime turned when it was in difficulty over payments.
Davidov's other problem comes from the Russian scientists working in
Busher; they have posited the risk of accidents due to four factors: the
difference in diameter between Russian containers and those put in place by
Siemens; the difference between the Russian project comprising six
horizontal generators and the German project consisting of four vertical
ones; the construction of the upper part of the second reactor over the
first reactor that was damaged back in the days of the Iran-Iraq war; and
the seismic nature of the region in which the power station is being built.
Be that as it may, IRAN-1 is almost ready, quite a bit earlier than
planned, and at this rate IRAN-2 could be ready before the 10-year contract
expires. Once IRAN-1 is finished the Franco-Iranian company Eurodif is to
supply the enriched uranium in accordance with an agreement that has
already been signed.
But simply having the bomb on its own is not sufficient. One also
needs a missile to carry it. That is why Tehran is devoting great
attention to its ballistic program. The first result, already achieved, is
the manufacture in Iran itself of 150 Nadong missiles of North Korean type.
This is a modified version of the Scud-B missile that Saddam Husayn used
in the Gulf War to strike at Israel and Saudi Arabia, and of the Scud-C
that enjoys a range of 1,500 km. The Iranians built them after buying the
technology, the component parts, and the raw materials from North Korea.
However, we are talking here only of 1,500 km. That is a medium range
that, while it allows the missiles to reach Israel, puts restrictions on
Iran's freedom of action all the same.
That is why Tehran has begun
research into efforts to come up with long-range missiles capable of
carrying conventional and other warheads weighing some 770 kg to targets up
to 3,000 km away, which means that they would thus be capable of reaching
Europe. Moscow and Beijing are providing the Iranians with assistance in a
secret center located at Parchin near Tehran. Everything revolves around a
missile known as SS-4, which in NATO terminology is called "Sandal." It
was Russia's deployment of this missile in Cuba that led to the famous
crisis which brought the world to within inches of a nuclear war. Because
of the arms reduction accords signed by Gorbachev, Moscow cannot actually
supply Tehran with this missile, so the Iranians and the Russians made
plans to include it in a space research project. Under this pretext,
between 1995 and 1997, Moscow sent Tehran many of the component parts for
making the missile as well as the laboratories to test it in and several
RD-214 engines manufactured by a company called Energomash. The SS-4 is
designed for a range of 2,000 km but the Iranians are increasing that to
3,000 km thank to the supply by the Chinese of the know-how necessary for a
command and control system, disguised as satellite technology. Indeed
satellite launchers are fairly similar to missile launchers for missiles
such as the SS-4. Beijing is involved also in the construction of plants
for the manufacture of solid propulsion fuel such as perchlorate ammonium
for the modified SS-4's.