David Albright and Washington Post double down on Danilenko tale
Excerpt from interview and comments below:
Sam Husseini: Did you do any checking on [Vyacheslav] Danilenko biography before passing on the allegation from an unnamed state that he was a quote “former Soviet nuclear scientist?”
Albright: Yes, of course we did. And I know his work pretty well.
SH: What did you find?
Albright: Well I found he was a member of the Soviet nuclear weapons complex at Chelyabinsk-70. And we knew he went into producing nanodiamonds, he worked in the early 60s in the nuclear weapons program and he has an incredible amount of information about how you build a nuclear weapon. And more than one state, in fact the IAEA has said that they think he’s part or — he contributed — to Iran’s effort to build a nuclear explosive device, in particular to diagnose a multi-point initiation system.
SH: So you’re saying that you knew prior to identifying him as a Soviet nuclear scientist that he was actually a nanodiamond expert?
Albright: He’s also a nanodiamond. He has a tremendous amount of knowledge about building nuclear weapons. He’s an ex nuclear weapons expert who went and worked in Iran. Of course he does other things. He left the business of nuclear weapons in about 1990. Now the issue with him is he was recruited and signed a contract with the head of the physics research center which was running the secret nuclear sector for Iran.
I sent my exchange with Albright to Porter, who wrote back to me: “Albright doesn’t offer any offer any evidence that he did any investigation at all. He simply reiterates as a fact the assertion made by the IAEA on the say-so of a member state. He claims that Danilenko was working on nuclear weapons from the beginning, but the only fact that he can cite is that Danilenko was working at the Soviet Institute at Chelyabinsk which was known to produce nuclear weapons. He doesn’t deal with the fact that Danilenko was involved in extremely technical pioneering work in nanodiamonds from the very beginning, and that he had a string of technical publications about them. He is suggesting, by inference, that he had a secret all that time, but clearly neither he nor the IAEA nor the member state have anything on which to base that fantasy. The fact is that by the time, Danilenko left the Institute at Chelyanbinsk in 1989, half the work force there was working on non-military research, according to the Nuclear Threat Institute. So Albright is simply using his imagination in claiming that that Danilenko worked on weapons — that’s all he’s got.”
I also sent the exchange to Muhammad Sahimi who recently wrote the piece “The IAEA Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program: Alarming or Hyped?” He wrote back: “This is an excellent interview and you really pushed Albright. But Albright never concedes anything, least of all his errors, and the fact that, in my opinion, he has an anti-Iran agenda. Several years ago he and his ISIS made a big deal about the Parchin facility. After the IAEA visited there and found nothing, he and his institution never retracted anything. He consistently refers to ‘Iran’s nuclear weapon program,’ whereas even the IAEA does not say that Iran has one, but that some studies might be relevant. He never ever took a public position on the so-called laptop, because he reportedly believed that it was fake, but did not want to say it publicly. After one nuclear test by North Korea, he outrageously insinuated that, “I heard Iranians were there,” meaning what? I can just go on and on with this.”
The day after my exchange with Albright, he was quoted in another piece in the Washington Post, “Russian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko’s aid to Iran offers peek at nuclear program,” also by Warrick, that tried to portray Danilenko’s nanodiamond expertise as a sort of cover, referring to “his diamond-making scheme.” The piece states that Danilenko had contacts with Iranian scientists until 2002, so how was he suppose to help them make advances that have not been detected until now?