Tuesday, October 6

High intrigue and Iran's nuclear weapons program: The case of the semi-missing nuke technicians

Regarding the mention of David Hoffman's Dead Hand in John Batchelor's post today, which I publish below, I recommend that you first read an excellent New York Times review of the book. Hoffman's book is the first full account of how the Soviet-US arms race finally ended. That will set the stage for John's post about the intrigue surrounding the development of Iran's nuclear weapons.

John recently interviewed Hoffman about Dead Hand; the book and their discussion underscore that the Cold War casts a long shadow on today's thorniest defense issues, including Iran's WMD programs.

Torn Nukes
By John Batchelor, October 6, 2009 12

Worst Case Scenario

"Torn Curtain" was the Cold War in startling Hitchcock style, and now we have the New Cold War in high tension drama in the case of 'missing' ex-Soviet nuke techs.

Bibi Netanyahu traveled quietly to Moscow recently in order to confront the Russians with the names of four ex-Soviet nuke technicians that Israeli intelligence asserts are working with Tehran to engineer their centrifuges and produce highly enriched uranium in mass production for bomb-making.

Missing technicians? No. Moscow knows where they are. So does Jerusalem. There are more than four, and the seriousness of it is that Moscow is not running the operation. I am told these are ex-Sov techs from Kazakhstan and Ukraine. There is much more.

David Hoffman's thrilling and highly crafted new book, "Dead Hand," includes several anecdotes, supported by named informants, that point to Tehran shopping for Soviet nuke and biowar technicians in the 1990s in Kazakhstan.

I add the Ukraine detail on advice, without naming sources. The Netanyahu trip to Moscow on September 7, two years after the IAF strike on the nuke facilities built by North Korea and Iran in the eastern Syrian plain, was a declaration by Jerusalem that it no longer needed to keep its penetration of Iran's nuke ops secret from anyone. Jerusalem wanted Moscow to know it knows. And the US, too. Why? This is a thriller.

George Friedman at Stratfor argues right now that the revelation of the nuke techies makes the worst case scenario credible for Iran's nuke program. I agree with George Friedman. Paul Newsman agrees with George Friedman, and so does Julie Andrews. Hitchcock calls this movie "Torn Nukes."

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