David Albright is a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. A friend has alerted us to Albright’s publication of a summary of excerpts from the internal IAEA document referred to by the AP in the story linked below as what appears to be “the secret annex” on Iranian nuclear weaponization.
The AP story linked below (headline: “Nuke agency says iran can make bomb”) states that the information in the secret annex is either new, more detailed or representative of a more forthright conclusion than found in published IAEA reports. Albright prefaces the excerpts with the explanation that the “secret annex” may be a working document that is subject to revision:
Writing in the trade publication Nucleonics Week, Mark Hibbs describes a debate taking place within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the extent to which the Agency should publicize its findings regarding potential weaponization activities by Iran. This debate is also described in a September 17, 2009 article by Associated Press journalist George Jahn, which revealed excerpts from internal IAEA documents assessing the veracity of the allegations about Iran as well as the Agency’s assessment on Iran’s current capability to make nuclear weapons. This report contains further excerpts from what ISIS understands to be a working document and not necessarily a final report.
ISIS understands that IAEA experts, including one nuclear weapons specialist, prepared the document. Their objective was to summarize and assess the set of records from 2004 and earlier obtained by the IAEA about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. The information analyzed included documents and data from electronic media procured inside Iran and obtained by the United States, information and documents from other member states about suspected nuclear weaponization activities inside Iran, and procurement data. This document also included the IAEA’s expert assessments of the information. Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director General for Safeguards, described some of this information in a technical briefing for member states in February 2008. The September 17 AP article contains extensive quotes about assessments by IAEA experts, possibly in consultation with nuclear weapon experts in member states.
The information below is taken from one version of this IAEA assessment cited by the AP; it is a 67-page long report titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program.” ISIS is not certain of the date of this document but understands it was authored in the past 6 to 12 months.
Much of the IAEA’s information, including test data, reports, diagrams, and videos, was reportedly contained on a laptop. This laptop has received considerable attention since its public revelation in 2005. ISIS now understands that the term “laptop” might refer to the method by which the United States shares sensitive data and not the form in which the data were removed from Iran. ISIS has learned from intelligence officials with direct knowledge of the case that electronic media was smuggled out of Iran by the wife of an Iranian who was recruited by German intelligence. Iranian authorities had discovered his activities, and one of his last acts before arrest was the passing of the records to his wife. Intelligence officials told ISIS that they assume he is dead. His wife fled to Turkey and turned the electronic media over to U.S. authorities.
Questions have arisen about the authenticity of these records, which are inevitable given the sensitivity of this issue. For several years, ISIS has queried nuclear and other experts who have examined these data and documents. They have consistently told ISIS that the information appears authentic. One intelligence official who examined the information said that the electronic media contains extensive amounts of data obtained in experiments, and noted that it would be extremely difficult to falsify such a large quantity of data.
It is also important to note that the IAEA has addressed this issue in its most recent safeguards report, stating that “the information contained in that documentation appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needs to be addressed by Iran with a view to removing the doubts which naturally arise, in light of all of the outstanding issues, about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran‟s nuclear programme.”
In addition to the electronic media records, other member states have provided information relevant to this issue, which also forms the basis for the assessments contained in this internal IAEA document. Less controversy surrounds the authenticity of this information.
ISIS emphasizes that these excerpts appear to be from a working document that has been revised at least once. Its author is unknown. It is subject to revision both substantively and editorially.
Albright’s explanation is followed by excerpts from the report indicating that Iran has made substantial progress developing the capacity to mount its intermediate range Shahab-3 missile with a nuclear warhead. While the Obama administration pursues the farce of engagement with Iran, readers who have been following this most important story will find the excerpts of interest.
UPDATE: The New York Times covers the story here.