Exclusive: Is This Why Russia Is Backing Iran On Nuclear Weapons Report?

Russia’s strong criticisms of a U.N. report on Iran’s atomic weapons ambitions has baffled observers. Now it emerges that the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s dossier cites a Russian scientist who some suspect may have played a key role in Tehran’s nuclear program

Iranian nuclear officials meet IAEA chief Yukiya Amano in June (Dean Calma/IAEA)
Iranian nuclear officials meet IAEA chief Yukiya Amano in June (Dean Calma/IAEA)
Sergei Strokan and Elena Chernenko

MOSCOW – Security experts and diplomats have wondered why Russia has come down so hard against a recent U.N. report that details Iran's progress toward developing nuclear weapons. Russia has ruled out fresh sanctions on Iran, proposed by the United States, France and the United Kingdom. Moscow has argued that adding any extra measures would be seen as an attempt to topple the current regime in Iran.

Now, it has been revealed that the dossier by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, contains the name of a Russian scientist who may have played a key role in helping Tehran achieve its nuclear ambitions.

Part of the IAEA document was published, but confidential sections of the report cast a shadow not only on Tehran but also on Moscow.

Kommersant has learned that the IAEA will decide on Nov. 17 whether to disclose the confidential parts of the report, but somehow, bypassing the organization, the ‘closed" part of the report appeared on Wednesday on the site of the Washington D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security.

It describes how a foreign expert played a key role in Iran's breakthrough in developing nuclear energy. It said former Soviet nuclear scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko worked with the Iranian Center for Nuclear Physics from 1996 to 2002, helping the Iranians with computer modeling of nuclear warheads.

Kommersant has discovered that a scientist of that name was an expert who began his career in the 1950s at the former Russian Federal Nuclear Center in the Chelyabinsk region, one of Russia's two world-class nuclear research centers.

He is said to be an expert in nanodiamond technology. Nanodiamonds are nanoparticles caused by the detonation of explosives, and are used in industry as an additive to lubricants and polish.

"Not the founder of Iran's nuclear program"

A source close to Russian nuclear regulatory body Rosatom revealed that while nanodiamond technology was a highly specialized field, "it could be useful in the design of nuclear warheads."

The Russian Foreign Ministry says allegations that a Russian scientist played a key role in Iran's nuclear program showed a "lack of competence by the authors," and depicts "political goals that have nothing to do with the task of removing the well-known concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program."

Contacted by Kommersant, Danilenko denied any connection with Iran's nuclear program. "I am not a nuclear physicist and I am not the founder of Iran's nuclear program," he said, refusing to answer further questions.

His former colleague, Vladimir Padalko, who directs the nanodiamond production company Alit, said: "Danilenko is considered the father of nanodiamonds. It was he who in 1962 started their synthesis through explosions."

Danilenko discovered nanodiamonds while working with the famous scientist Konstantin Krupnikov, who helped create the first Soviet atomic bomb.

Danilenko worked in Padalko's company from 1992 to 1996, and Padalko said IAEA experts and the U.S. State Department have met with the scientists several times in recent years. In December 2010 they even inspected Alit's manufacturing facilities.

"I explained to them that nanodiamonds have nothing to do with nuclear weapons," says Padalko. "They were interested in Danilenko's work in Iran."

Padalko confirmed that Danilenko was based in Iran in the second half of 1990, working in nanodiamond technology and giving lectures.

In 2010, Danilenko published a book that describes nanodiamonds, and other issues related to explosions and their use of energy – as well as gas dynamics, shock waves, and detonation theory.

Read the original article in full in Russian

photo - Dean Calma/IAEA

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!