Jeffrey LewisMore on the Heinonen Presentation

A week or so ago, the Washington Post printed a story by Joby Warrick and Colum Lynch about Olli Heinonen’s briefing to the IAEA Board of Governors on weaponization work in Iran. Warrick and Lynch, apparently, had the notes of diplomat who attended.

I asked “what else is in those notes?” Apparently, quite a lot about the “administrative interconnections” that keep me up at night. (Or is that the jet lag? Or Rusek picking up rounds at the Raven?)

Anywho, Warrick writes today about Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was first outed as Iran’s would-be AQ Khan by Warrick’s colleague Dafna Linzer in 2006 and sanctioned in 2007. (Although the sanctions list ain’t exactly science)

Warrick writes:

Iranian nuclear engineer Mohsen Fakhrizadeh lectures weekly on physics at Tehran’s Imam Hossein University. Yet for more than a decade, according to documents attracting interest among Western governments, he also ran secret programs aimed at acquiring sensitive nuclear technology for his government.

Experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly invited Fakhrizadeh to tea and a chat about Iran’s nuclear work. But for two years, the government in Tehran has barred any contact with the scientist, who U.S. officials say recently moved to a new lab in a heavily guarded compound also off-limits to U.N. inspectors.

The exact nature of his research — past and present — remains a mystery, as does the work of other key Iranian scientists whose names appear in documents detailing what U.N. officials say is a years-long, clandestine effort to expand the country’s nuclear capability. The documents, which were provided to the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear agency, in recent months by two countries other than the United States, partly match information in a stolen Iranian laptop turned over by Washington.

IAEA officials say these documents identify Fakhrizadeh and other civilian scientists as central figures in a secret nuclear research program that operated as recently as 2003. So far, however, Iran is refusing to shed light on their work or allow U.N. officials to question them. After being presented with copies of some of the new documents, Tehran denied that some of the scientists exist.


Fakhrizadeh is prominent in several of the documents, according to two officials who have seen them. A personnel chart listed him as the senior authority overseeing all the research projects. Another paper, purportedly signed by Fakhrizadeh, establishes spending guidelines for the research programs, while a third sets rules for communication among scientists, suggesting, for example, that researchers avoid putting their names on correspondence that might eventually become public, according to a Europe-based diplomat who viewed the documents.

Fakhrizadeh, 47, who became a Revolutionary Guard Corps member after the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, is a former leader of the Physics Research Center, which U.N. officials say was heavily involved in drawing up plans and acquiring parts for Iran’s first uranium enrichment plant. He was among eight Iranians placed under international travel and financial restrictions under the terms of a U.N. resolution adopted last year because of his alleged ties to “nuclear or ballistic missile” research, U.N. records show.

This is a really good story. Warrick is particularly careful with the caveats.

This blog has spent a lot of time batting around the NIE’s definition of “weaponization” which seemed to hint that the clandestine program was defined by the administrative links:

… by “nuclear weapons program” we mean Iran’s nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work; we do not mean Iran’s declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment.

Replace “we do not mean Iran’s declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment” with “and all the other sketchy stuff Fakhrizadeh was up to.”


Before I left for Singapore, a couple of other stories appeared on Heinonen’s talk:

  • “That is what allowed Mr. Heinonen to make at least part of his presentation last Monday. He knew the most compelling aspect was the video of the work for designing a nuclear warhead to fit atop the Shahab 3, Iran’s most advanced missile. European capitals are within its range, which helps explain the new enthusiasm by France and Germany to lead the charge against Iran.”

Bill Broad and David Sanger, “Meeting on Arms Data Reignites Iran Debate,” New York Times, March 3, 2008. link

  • “U.N. investigators want Iran to explain an organizational chart linking projects to process uranium, test explosives and modify a missile cone for a nuclear payload, diplomats briefed on the matter say.

“They said a top U.N. nuclear watchdog official last week gave a detailed presentation of intelligence alleging illicit atomic “weaponization studies” by Iran and naming the man who ran them for the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics.

“In a written summary given to Reuters of the presentation, they said Iran had refused to let inspectors interview Mohsen Fakrizadeh or visit sites where the experiments took place.”

Mark Heinrich and Louis Charbonneau, “IAEA unveils allegations of Iranian arms work,” Reuters, March 2, 2008.


  1. Allen Thomson (History)

    > “European capitals are within its range, which helps explain the new enthusiasm by France and Germany to lead the charge against Iran.”

    That would be some Eastern European and Balkan capitals if the Shahab-3 has anything like the range currently attributed to it.

  2. b (History)

    > “European capitals are within its range, which helps explain the new enthusiasm by France and Germany to lead the charge against Iran.”

    Bullshit – no German has any concern about getting nuked by Iran. 1. It can’t 2. Why should it?

    Israel might have more motives (and capability) to nuke Berlin.

    Some politicians in Berlin are pandering to Washington on one side and try to restrict it from an attack on Iran on the other.

    That’s all.