debkafile Exclusive: Europe exploits Israel’s military crisis to drag out nuclear talks with Iran, while Tehran makes hay by stepping up uranium e

Sunday, Sept 17, was the deadline President George W. Bush set for European diplomacy to persuade Iran to call off its uranium enrichment program at Natanz in compliance with Security Council demands. debkafile‘s military and Washington sources report the deadline came and went without the Bush administration holding the European Union to the date, despite the lack of progress foreign affairs executive Javier Solana achieved in his talks with Iran’s nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.
Israel foreign minister Tzipi Livni learned last week, when she met US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley in Washington, that the Europeans do not feel rushed. They believe they have plenty of time to play with because the threat of Israeli military action has receded in view the deep crisis in which the Olmert government is sunk. Israel is seen to be paying the price of its mishandling of the Lebanon war by dropping into a long period of political and military paralysis.
In another grave setback for the US effort to stop Iran’s race for a nuclear weaponm, Russian and Chinese UN ambassadors are reported by our sources as not only digging in their heels on sanctions, they have spurned efforts by their American counterpart John Bolton to convene the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee to discuss the issue.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources report Iran is taking full advantage of this impasse by ordering its nuclear teams to hurry up the tempo of uranium enrichment.
Their four key officials were first revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 169:
Jaafar Mohammadi, technical adviser to the Nuclear Energy Agency
His dossiers in the files of American, European and Israel intelligence services are thicker than that of any other Iranian nuclear official.
The shadowy wheeler, dealer and intriguer behind the nuclear program, he is formally in charge of overseas equipment procurement. In practice, he runs the undercover import of illicit equipment – often from shady sources. The project leaders and scientists tell him what they need and he gets it for them by hook or by crook,
Halen Bakhtiar, Mohammadi’s senior deputy
The only woman holding down a high-ranking job in Iran’s nuclear program, Bakhtiar helps her boss locate and select foreign firms and parties able to meet the requirements of nuclear projects and adapt the equipment to those needs.
Morteza Behzad, Director-General of the Institute for Centrifuge Technology, is another linchpin of the nuclear program. His current assignment, with associates is to get the small-time manufacture of top-speed P-2 centrifuges into mass production, the goal being 40-60,000 centrifuges per year. His failure to achieve this great leap would leave Iran short of enriched weapons-grade uranium to build a strategic stockpile of nuclear bombs.
Jabar Safdari, Director- General of Natanz Enrichment Installations
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources reported Safdari performs the essential function of liaison between Iranian research institutions and the nuclear engineers and technicians working on the practical applications of the scientists’ researches and ideas. Safdari, who is of Arab descent, is working with Morteza Behzad and Jaafar Mohammadi, Technical Adviser to the Nuclear Energy Agency, to build a P-2 centrifuge mass production line.

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