A Faulty Intelligence Report Lives On
3:15 PM, Mar 20, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The IAEA mentions work on a “multipoint initiation concept.” The IAEA adds that, prior to 2003, the “dimensions of the initiation system and the explosives used with it were consistent with the dimensions” for a new payload that were “given to the engineers who were studying how to integrate the new payload into the chamber of the Shahab 3 missile re-entry vehicle.” After 2003, Iran “engaged in experimental research involving a scaled down version” of this initiation concept.
Some have tried to claim that this work was related solely to the production of nanodiamonds. But this is highly doubtful as it was consistent with weapon design prior to 2003 and it continued under the auspices of Fakrizadeh’s post-2003 nuclear research.
If we are to infer just a bit, it appears that the “multipoint initiation concept,” or related work, is what Hosenball’s sources referred to as “research” as opposed to “development” when they mentioned the intelligence community’s “Talmudic” interpretation of the intelligence.
There are still more details in the IAEA’s report. In short, the intelligence indicates the Iranians did not stop all work on weaponization either.
The 2007 NIE’s authors began by arguing that Ayatollah Khameini issued a stop work order in 2003 and he had not rescinded it since. That was disproven by the facility at Qom and extensive other intelligence since then.
But in the minds of some U.S. officials the 2007 NIE lives on.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.