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Geopolitics

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

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Society

Do We Need Our Parents When We Grow Up? Doubts Of A Young Father

As his son grows older, Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra wonders when a father is no longer necessary.

Do We Need Our Parents When We Grow Up? Doubts Of A Young Father

"Is it true that when I am older I won’t need a papá?," asked the author's son.

Ignacio Pereyra

It’s 2am, on a Wednesday. I am trying to write about anything but Lorenzo (my eldest son), who at four years old is one of the exclusive protagonists of this newsletter.

You see, I have a whole folder full of drafts — all written and ready to go, but not yet published. There’s 30 of them, alternatively titled: “Women who take on tasks because they think they can do them better than men”; “As a father, you’ll always be doing something wrong”; “Friendship between men”; “Impressing everyone”; “Wanderlust, or the crisis of monogamy”, “We do it like this because daddy say so”.

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