[News] IAEA's "Soviet Nuclear Scientist" Never Worked on Weapons

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 10 12:11:06 EST 2011

IAEA's "Soviet Nuclear Scientist" Never Worked on Weapons
By Gareth Porter*


WASHINGTON, Nov 9, 2011 (IPS) - The report of the 
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 
published by a Washington think tank Tuesday 
repeated the sensational claim previously 
reported by news media all over the world that a 
former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had 
helped Iran construct a detonation system that 
could be used for a nuclear weapon.

But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is 
not named in the 
report but was identified in news reports as 
Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons 
scientist but one of the top specialists in the 
world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.

In fact, Danilenko, a Ukrainian, has worked 
solely on nanodiamonds from the beginning of his 
research career and is considered one of the 
pioneers in the development of nanodiamond 
technology, as published scientific papers confirm.

It now appears that the IAEA and David Albright, 
the director of the International Institute for 
Science and Security in Washington, who was the 
source of the news reports about Danilenko, never 
bothered to check the accuracy of the original 
claim by an unnamed "Member State" on which the 
IAEA based its assertion about his nuclear weapons background.

Albright gave a "private briefing" for 
"intelligence professionals" last week, in which 
he named Danilenko as the foreign expert who had 
been contracted by Iran's Physics Research Centre 
in the mid-1990s and identified him as a "former 
Soviet nuclear scientist", according to a story 
by Joby Warrick of the Washington Post on Nov. 5.

The Danilenko story then went worldwide.

The IAEA report says the agency has "strong 
indications" that Iran's development of a "high 
explosions initiation system", which it has 
described as an "implosion system" for a nuclear 
weapon, was "assisted by the work of a foreign 
expert who was not only knowledgeable on these 
technologies, but who, a Member State has 
informed the Agency, worked for much of his 
career in the nuclear weapon program of the country of his origin."

The report offers no other evidence of 
Danilenko's involvement in the development of an initiation system.

The member state obviously learned that Danilenko 
had worked during the Soviet period at the 
All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of 
Technical Physics in Snezhinsk, Russia, which was 
well known for its work on development of nuclear 
warheads and simply assumed that he had been involved in that work.

However, further research would have revealed 
that Danilenko worked from the beginning of his 
career in a part of the Institute that 
specialised in the synthesis of diamonds. 
Danilenko wrote in an account of the early work 
in the field published in 2006 that he was among 
the scientists in the "gas dynamics group" at the 
Institute who were "the first to start studies on diamond synthesis in 1960".

Danilenko's recollections of the early period of 
his career are in a chapter of the book, 
"Ultrananocrystalline Diamond: Synthesis, 
Properties and Applications" edited by Olga A. 
Shenderova and Dieter M. Gruen, published in 2006.

Another chapter in the book covering the history 
of Russian patents related to nanodiamonds 
documents the fact that Danilenko's centre at the 
Institute developed key processes as early as 
1963-66 that were later used at major "detonaton 
nanodiamond" production centres.

Danilenko left the Institute in 1989 and joined 
the Institute of Materials Science Problems in 
Ukraine, according to the authors of that chapter.

Danilenko's major accomplishment, according to 
the authors, has been the development of a 
large-scale technology for producing 
ultradispersed diamonds, a particular application 
of nanodiamonds. The technology, which was later 
implemented by the "ALIT" company in Zhitomir, 
Ukraine, is based on an explosion chamber 100 
cubic metres in volume, which Danilenko designed.

Beginning in 1993, Danilenko was a principal in a 
company called "Nanogroup" which was established 
initially in the Ukraine but is now based in 
Prague. The company's website boasts that it has 
"the strongest team of scientists" which had been 
involved in the "introduction of nanodiamonds in 
1960 and the first commercial applications of nanodiamonds in 2000".

The declared aim of the company is to supply 
worldwide demand for nanodiamonds.

Iran has an aggressive programme to develop its 
nanotechnology sector, and it includes as one 
major focus nanodiamonds, as blogger Moon of 
Alabama has pointed out. That blog was the first 
source to call attention to Danilenko's nanodiamond background.

Danilenko clearly explained that the purpose of 
his work in Iran was to help the development of a 
nanodiamond industry in the country.

The report states that the "foreign expert" was 
in Iran from 1996 to about 2002, "ostensibly to 
assist in the development of a facility and 
techniques for making ultra dispersed diamonds 
(UDDs) or nanodiamonds
" That wording suggests 
that nanodiamonds were merely a cover for his real purpose in Iran.

The report says the expert "also lectured on 
explosive physics and its applications", without 
providing any further detail about what applications were involved.

The fact that the IAEA and Albright were made 
aware of Danilenko's nanodiamond work in Iran 
before embracing the "former Soviet nuclear 
weapons specialist" story makes their failure to 
make any independent inquiry into his background even more revealing.

The tale of a Russian nuclear weapons scientist 
helping construct an "implosion system" for a 
nuclear weapon is the most recent iteration of a 
theme that the IAEA introduced in its May 2008 
report, which mentioned a five-page document 
describing experimentation with a "complex 
multipoint initiation system to detonate a 
substantial amount of high explosives in 
hemispherical geometry" and to monitor the detonation.

Iran acknowledged using "exploding bridge wire" 
detonators such as those mentioned in that 
document for conventional military and civilian 
applications. But it denounced the document, 
along with the others in the "alleged studies" 
collection purporting to be from an Iranian 
nuclear weapons research programme, as fakes.

Careful examination of the "alleged studies" 
documents has revealed inconsistencies and other 
anomalies that give evidence of fraud. But the 
IAEA, the United States and its allies in the 
IAEA continue to treat the documents as though 
there were no question about their authenticity.

The unnamed member state that informed the agency 
about Danilenko's alleged experience as a Soviet 
nuclear weapons scientist is almost certainly 
Israel, which has been the source of virtually 
all the purported intelligence on Iranian work on 
nuclear weapons over the past decade.

Israel has made no secret of its determination to 
influence world opinion on the Iranian nuclear 
programme by disseminating information to 
governments and news media, including purported 
Iran government documents. Israeli foreign 
ministry and intelligence officials told 
journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins 
about the special unit of Mossad dedicated to 
that task at the very time the fraudulent documents were being produced.

In an interview in September 2008, Albright said 
Olli Heinonen, then deputy director for 
safeguards at the IAEA, had told him that a 
document from a member state had convinced him 
that the "alleged studies" documents were 
genuine. Albright said the state was "probably Israel".

The Jerusalem Post's Yaakov Katz reported 
Wednesday that Israeli intelligence agencies had 
"provided critical information used in the 
report", the purpose of which was to "push 
through a new regime of sanctions against Tehran

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and 
journalist specialising in U.S. national security 
policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, 
"Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the 
Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.


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