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January 14, 2006

Planting Evidence


by Gordon Prather

There is a "revelation" in James Risen’s latest book – State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration – that is perhaps more revealing than anyone intended.

According to Risen, back in February 2000, the CIA finally found a job for one of their assets – a Russian "defector," long on their payroll, but never usefully employed. They sent him to IAEA headquarters in Vienna with what Risen characterizes as "blueprints for a nuclear bomb" with instructions to give them to the Iranian delegate to the IAEA.

"Nuclear bomb"?

Well, no.

The Russian was actually "carrying technical designs for a TBA 480 high-voltage block, otherwise known as a ‘firing set’, for a Russian-designed nuclear weapon."

"He [the Russian] held in his hands the knowledge needed to create a perfect implosion that could trigger a nuclear chain reaction inside a small spherical core. It was one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world, providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia from rogue countries such as Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short.

Iran has spent nearly 20 years trying to develop nuclear weapons, and in the process has created a strong base of sophisticated scientists knowledgeable enough to spot flaws in nuclear blueprints. Tehran also obtained nuclear blueprints from the network of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, and so already had workable blueprints against which to compare the designs obtained from the CIA. Nuclear experts say that they would thus be able to extract valuable information from the blueprints while ignoring the flaws."

Nonsense.

After almost three years of exhaustive go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has – or ever had – a nuclear weapons program.

Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran obtained "workable blueprints" for a fire-set, much less for a nuclear weapon, from the Pakistanis.

And there is no sense in which a fire-set is "one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world." A fire-set is an electrical device wherein an enormous charge is built up relatively slowly and stored on a capacitor until the precise millisecond that charge-pulse is needed to simultaneously vaporize the ‘bridge wires’ in one or more high-explosive detonators.

There’s nothing secret about it. The Iraqis got the know-how from the open literature.

But, here’s the really interesting part of Risen’s story.

The CIA went to a great deal of trouble to plant on the Iranians authentic blueprints for an authenic fire-set for an authenic Russian nuke.

Why?

Risen says the design – which was authentic – had been slightly altered, so that if "built to print" it wouldn’t work. Risen says the CIA was providing the stupid Iranians misinformation.

But what if that was not what the CIA was really doing?

What if the Bush-Cheney administration has since told our "allies" and neo-crazy media sycophants that the CIA has obtained "intelligence" that the Russians – who are completing the 1000 MWe nuclear power plant at Bushehr – have also been secretly assisting the Iranians develop nuclear weapons?

Hmm?

Has the CIA told the IAEA where to go and what to look for?

In the office of the Iranian delegate to the IAEA? Or in a military lab where high-explosives and fire-sets would be developed?

Don’t laugh.

Remember back in 2003, shortly after Iran agreed to sign – and immediately adhere to – an Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement, Libya did, too. (Apparently the CIA and MI6 twisted Momar Khadafi’s arms for several years before allowing him to contact the IAEA Director-General.)

ElBaradei was shown warehouses full of uranium-enrichment equipment, much of it still in shipping crates. (The CIA immediately confiscated most of it.)

However, ElBaradei reported that he found no evidence that Libya had yet produced even small amounts of enriched uranium.

Apparently, the Libyans – like the Iranians – had the money to buy such equipment, but – unlike the Iranians – had no idea what to do with it once they got it.

But, the Washington Post also reported that the Libyans gave ElBaradei two white plastic shopping bags from a Pakistani clothing shop.

One of the bags contained drawings and blueprints, apparently of an early model Chinese nuke.

Given by a CIA Chinese "asset" to the Libyan delegate to the IAEA?

Condi is reportedly "losing patience" with Putin. After reading Risen’s book you can probably imagine what Putin thinks of her.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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