On “Nuclear Iran” Allegations: Nanodiamonds Ain’t Nuclear Bombs
The Washington Posts alleges that the IAEA says foreign expertise has brought Iran to threshold of nuclear capability. This is of course a lie. The IAEA says nothing like that. This is simply an assertion made by the reporter and some “nuclear Iran” scare propagandists.
And what would “to threshold of nuclear capability” actually mean? That Iran would be capable, like Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands or some 40 other countries, to build a nuclear bomb if it would choose to do so? What would be new, wrong or dangerous with that?
The piece goes into some details, provided mostly by chief nuclear scare monger David Albright, about allegedly “new” stuff some secret services handed to the IAEA. To see how misleading these allegations are lets look at just one detail. A Ukrainian expert for creating nanodiamands is described as “weapon scientist” and “nuclear scientist” even when all his published work is about the synthesizing of very small diamonds:
Documents and other records provide new details on the role played by a former Soviet weapons scientist who allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials and experts said.
According to the intelligence provided to the IAEA, key assistance in both areas was provided by Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist who was contracted in the mid-1990s by Iran’s Physics Research Center, a facility linked to the country’s nuclear program. Documents provided to the U.N. officials showed that Danilenko offered assistance to the Iranians over at least five years, giving lectures and sharing research papers on developing and testing an explosives package that the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design, according to two officials with access to the IAEA’s confidential files.
Dr. Vyacheslav Danilenko is a well known Ukrainian (“former Soviet”) scientist. But his specialties are not “weapon” or “nuclear” science, indeed there seems to be nothing to support that claim, but the production of nanodiamonds via detonations (ppt). According to the history of detonation nanodiamonds he describes in chapter 10 of Ultrananocrystalline Diamond – Synthesis, Properties, and Applications (pdf) he has worked in that field since 1962, invented new methods used in the process and is related with Alit, an Ukrainian company that produces nanodiamonds.
This is a detonation tank to create nanodiamonds, not a nuclear device.
Very small diamonds are useful for many purposes, like polishing optics or PC hard disks. That is why, for example, Drexel University in Philadelphia invited Danilenko for a talk at its Nanotechnology Institute:
On January 29, the AJ Drexel Nanotechnology Institute sponsored a Nanodiamond Lecture, “Nanodiamonds: Reactor Design and Synthesis,” by noted Ukrainian scientist Dr. Vyacheslav Danilenko. Dr. Danilenko was among the first to demonstrate detonation synthesis of diamonds and has more than 30 years experience in the design of reactors for the synthesis of nanodiamonds.
Some years ago Iran launched a big Nano Technology Initiative which includes Iranian research on detonation nanodiamonds (pdf). Iran is planing to produce them on industrial scale. It holds regular international conferences and invites experts on nanotechnology from all over the world. It is quite likely that famous international scientists in that field, like Dr. Danilenko, have been invited, gave talks in Iran and cooperate with its scientists.
Producing nanodiamonds via detonations uses large confined containers with water cooling, for which Danilenko seems to have a patent. The Ukrainian company he works with, Alit, shows such a detonation chamber on its webpage as does the picture above. The detonation nanodiamond explanation thereby also fits with another allegation from the IAEA report:
The Associated Press reported that U.N. officials have acquired satellite photos of a bus-size steel container used by Iran for some of the explosives testing.
See the picture above and the one on the Alit web page. Iran having a “bus-size steel container” for explosive testing and research cooperation with Danilenko both fit very well with Iran’s plans for nanodiamond production. They do not fit well with anything nuclear.
In his power-point presentation on detonation nanodiamonds on a bigger scale Danilenko recommends:
Use for industrial production of DND:
• charges ≥ 20 kg, explosion under water in close pool (in heavy metal cover), laser initiation;
• utilization of old ammunition under water in close pool;
Use of old ammunition in a closed water pool? Does that sound sound like something that “the Iranians apparently incorporated into their warhead design” as WaPo alleges? On what facts is that “apparently” innuendo based on?
But how or why should the production of detonation nanodiamonds relate to nuclear bombs at all? Why would someone even think they are related?
It may be because both use precise detonations. But they do so on a very different scales and in very different conditions. A sphere explosion for a nuclear device doesn’t use a confined container and water cooling. But a lot of other physics fields, for example seismological research, also use precise detonations. There is nothing especially “nuclear” about them.
Just because a certain method like precise detonations is used in Iran, does not imply that it is used for what Mr. Albright and some “western agencies” claim. Nanodiamonds ain’t nuclear weapons.
Danilenko’s lifelong expertise is with nanodiamonds, not with nuclear weapons. It is much more plausible, and fitting the evidence, that Iran is working with him in his original capacity than in a field outside his main expertise.
If this is the general quality of the “new evidence” on Iran then it is quite worthless. This seems to be just more innuendo and dirt thrown towards Iran with the hope that something, anything might stick.