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Iran-Nuclear: Mullahs’ drive to finish the heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak

Project to acquire Deuterium and Tritium

August 25, 2005

While the international community has been focused on stopping the clerical regime’s fuel cycle involving uranium enrichment, Tehran has been working to obtain heavy water reactor in Arak and plutonium as the main element for nuclear bomb at full speed.

In addition I would also like to use this opportunity to reveal that the clerical regime is working diligently to obtain Tritium, a dual use material that acts as a booster in fusion reactors.

Activities regarding Arak site:
The Arak site is comprised of a heavy water plant and 40 megawatt reactor. The clerical regime is working around the clock to finish the heavy water and the energy reactors.

During negotiations with the EU-3 the issue of Arak was not covered and not included in the Nov 2004 Paris agreement. The activities at Arak continued unhindered.

Officials have said to the IAEA inspectors that the Arak project will be ready at 2014. But this is a shear lie. The facility will be ready by 2007, in which case the clerical regime could produce 14 kg of plutonium in the first year which would be sufficient to make one or two bombs.

This project was supposed to be finished in 2007 but it ran into technical problems of H2f gas leakage that resulted in work being halted on parts of the main sections. These problems were ultimately sorted out.

The third unit in the heavy water factory in Arak will be finished in the next few months.
In order to advance the engineering plans of the heavy water reactor, some of the regime’s experts in Arak, including engineer Sassan Fahangi and engineer Karamati have made several trips to Russia.

The mullahs’ attempts to obtain Tritium
Tritium is an essential material for manufacturing boosted-fission nuclear weapons. In addition to work as an neutron initiator, it acts as the booster and increases the explosive power the bomb. This technique is used in modern nuclear weapons to maintain their yields while greatly decreasing their overall size and weight.  Scientifically, Deuterium and Tritium are both isotopes of hydrogen. Deuterium is used to cool down the heavy water reactors.

Tritium is manufactured by absorption of neutron by deuterium in heavy water reactors. Thus, for manufacturing tritium, a deuterium source is needed. In reality, the heavy water reactors could be used for manufacturing Tritium as one of the by-products of these reactors.

Tritium has dual use and the IAEA has barred Iran from obtaining this material.  According to international proliferation experts, production and testing on Tritium is an important indicator of a nuclear weapons program. On the average four grams of Tritium are used in every nuclear warhead.

Manufacturing Tritium in Iran and smuggling from abroad

Role of the Revolutionary Guards and the Defense Ministry in Titrium related research

Research on deuterium is carried out in the Modern Defensive Readiness and Technology Center known as Lavizan 2.  The chair of the center is Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. This center is under supervision of IRGC Brig. Gen. Hosseini Tash.

This major research center was first exposed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran in November 2004 and plays a crucial role in of the mullahs’ plans to acquire nuclear weapons.

Fakhrizadeh, who is also an IRGC Brig. Gen., is one of the most important scientists involved in the nuclear weapons program of the mullahs and a senior official of the Ministry of Defense.

In the  IRGC’s Imam Hossein University, Dr. Ferydoun Abbasi, deputy to Fakhrizadeh in Lavizan, is conducting research on Tritium. He is an expert on neutron initiators and is producing it for the Ministry of Defense.

Attempts to acquire Tritium by smuggling
In addition to military research and in an effort to produce Tritium under the cover of scientific research, the clerical regime has been trying to smuggle this material into Iran. In one recent case, the clerical regime tried to smuggle it from South Korea.

Using front companies to import Deuterium under the guise of scientific research

In order to conduct its scientific research on Tritium, the clerical regime needs pure deuterium (99 percent purified). Given the fact that the production of pure deuterium in Arak has not yet begun, in order to conduct research on Tritium in Arak, the clerical regime has imported deuterium under the guise  of using it in the nuclear research center in Isfahan for scientific research.

It has used a front company known as “Rah-e kar-e Sanayea Novin (New Industries Solutions). This company is headed by engineer Hosseini.

As a reminder, a small research heavy water reactor is set up in the nuclear research center  in Isfahan that uses heavy water. Rah-e kar-e Sanayea Novin company under the cover of scientific material for this research center has imported deuterium from Central Asian Republics. Thus, the clerical regime has used its “scientific centers” as cover to pursue its military objectives.

Assessing the progress of Heavy Water project in Arak
According to specific information from within the clerical regime, in the last session of “committee to review the country’s nuclear activities,” a body within the Supreme National Security Council, prior to start of work of the new government in Tehran, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization reported that the plan for building the 40 megawatt heavy water nuclear reactor was making rapid progress. He welcomed the fact that unlike the Natanz site where progress had stalled, the IAEA had not intervened to stop the advancement of the Arak project.

Intelligence, Foreign and Defense Ministers, IRGC commander in chief, General Rahim Safavi, Supreme Leader’s representative, Ali Akbar Velayati and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, attend the meetings of this committee.

During this session, then-Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, expressed his appreciation to Hassan Rowhani for deceiving the IAEA for the past 22 months and diverting the attention of international bodies from Arak site. Shamkhani reiterated that under no circumstances would this project be prevented. He said that progress in this site was a major achievement of the regime in the nuclear field and must continue at all costs.

Shamkhani explained that by building the heavy water reactor in Arak, the industrial production of Plutonium and Tritium would be possible. He also talked about the advantage of Plutonium-based nuclear bombs over other versions, including the relative ease with which it could be built. He also said the use of Tritium would strengthen its explosive power.

Shamkhani added that once Arak Site is completed, the Defense Ministry’s plans for self-sufficiency in building nuclear warheads would be guaranteed and no longer contingent on smuggling the means to build them.

He also referred to a number of efforts with regard to smuggling nuclear material that were exposed, including the revelations on 15 kg of enriched uranium in Turkey that was being smuggled from Russia in September 1993, the discovery of import of Maraging Steel in the UK in 1998, the revelations about the efforts to obtain nuclear chips in Germany in 2002, the exposure of efforts to smuggle Graphite from Russia and the revelations on the smuggling of Tritium from South Korea. .  

Obtaining nuclear weapons is an indispensable part of the Iranian regime’s survival strategy. To this end, it has employed all lawful and unlawful means to build the necessary chain to make the bomb. By managing the election of a Revolutionary Guards commander Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei intends to set aside all bureaucratic impediments to put all logistic, diplomatic and financial resources at the service of the nuclear weapons project.

The new Defense Minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, spent four years in the 1980s in Lebanon as a senior IRGC commander and was involved in terrorist activities there and elsewhere. In the 1990s, he was in charge of the Industries’ Group of the Defense Ministry’s Military Industries Organization.

Hassan Rowhani, who was until a couple of weeks ago, Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator with the EU-3, told the daily Kayhan on July 23, 2005, "We achieved brilliant results in technical, legal, political, propaganda and national security areas. We alleviated many of our deficiencies. We did not suspend work at Isfahan for a moment. Arak was never suspended and we have a significant number of centrifuges ready for use." HE also added that completing the fuel cycle was a red line. A few days earlier, his colleague Hossein Moussavian had reiterated, "Were it not for negotiations, it would have been impossible to sign the major oil and gas contracts with the rest of the world in the past two years, including long-term deals to export gas to India, China, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates."

Once in a while, we hear that some in the IAEA complain that no smoking gun has been found. Regrettably, on its part, the IAEA has done nothing to discover the Iranian regime’s clandestine activities.

Moreover, it reacts with tremendous delay when the Iranian Resistance’s exposes Tehran’s secret nuclear projects, enabling the regime to eliminate any smoking gun.

For instance, the IAEA visited Lavizan I site 15 months after it was uncovered. By then, the regime had raised the site to the ground. Lavizan II and Parchin have been revealed more than one year ago. The IAEA is yet to inspect those sites.

NO effort has been taken to follow up on the Maraging Steel import and domestic production that was unveiled in a Paris conference in Paris in July. There are many other cases, which the IAES has not taken up.

As you see, the nuclear talks only benefited the Iranian regime to achieve further advances in its nuclear work. The announcement on Tuesday that the EU will suspend the talks with Tehran is a positive step, but wholly inadequate.

Tehran will not abandon its nuclear program because it considers it essential to its survival. For this reason, the only way to definitely thwart Iran going nuclear is to work toward democratic change in Iran. This change in within reach by the Iranian people and Resistance.

Appeasement has acted as an impediment to this change so far. More specifically, the terror label against the People’s Mojahedin, the principle Iranian opposition movement has acted as the greatest barrier to this change.

If we want to prevent the world’s most dangerous terror sponsor from acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon, we must abandon the policy of appeasement in its totality. By referring Iran’s nuclear file to the United Nations Security Council, the international community could deny Tehran easy access to necessary means for completing its projects. By removing the terror label against the Mojahedin, we could refrain from participating in the crackdown on the Iranian people and set aside obstacles in the path of democratic change.