The bottom line of the last intelligence briefing presented to Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the morning of August 31, the day the UN Security Council’s ultimatum expired, was very simple: Iran has no reason to fear international sanctions for failing to halt uranium enrichment. To the contrary, it must continue to forge full speed ahead with its nuclear plans before an effective international coalition can step in and smother the program.
This advice prompted the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s contemptuous bravado. In the speeches he made Tuesday and Thursday, August 29 and 31, he sneered at the power of sanctions to halt or hold up Iran’s nuclear program for a moment.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iran sources reveal that Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and members of the Iranian nuclear energy agency helped compile this particular intelligence briefing.
As a rule, they are compiled by the Intelligence Ministry which presents them each morning to the supreme ruler.
All three elements agreed that Iran can withstand any kind of sanctions, although they were sure that a sanctions resolution would never get off the ground at the UN Security Council’s Thursday night session, which considered Iran’s failure to halt its uranium enrichment work.
The intelligence report also revealed that the first series of home-made P-2 centrifuges was running smoothly in the Natanz plant after the problems occurring while running them in were overcome. It was now proposed to start mass-production.
But the most sensation disclosure in the report was a development denied often in the past, but confirmed now by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources: Iran has managed to produce enriched uranium graded to 20% in the laboratory. This opens the way for still higher levels, although much more time will be required to produce more than small quantities with the resources to hand.
More immediately, Iran will be getting down to producing a second series of P-2 centrifuges and has made a start on the third.
On the orders of Khamenei’s office, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program’s heads aim to manufacture and install from 40 to 50 thousand centrifuges within a year, enough to produce several kilograms of uranium enriched to 80-90% – i.e. weapons grade – within 10 months.
The P-2 breakthrough was achieved, according to our sources, with the help of a Pakistani expert secretly hired and brought over last May. He is a member of the Pakistani nuclear black marketeer Abdul-Qader Khan‘s team.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly has reported in the past that A.Q. Khan’s nuclear ring, the largest ever discovered, was never fully exposed and large sections and connections are being run by team members still at large and working in different countries.
According to our information, the Pakistani hired by Tehran arrived with an Iranian passport issued in a false name. He left Pakistan without government permission but Pakistan’s interior and defense ministers were certain au fait with his activities.
It was this expert who ironed out the problems holding up Iran’s production of the P-2 centrifuges.