Aerial view of Parchin site (file)
Aerial view of Parchin site (file)Reuters

In a stunning bi-partisan “Congressional Letter” from over 353 out of 435 U.S. congresspersons to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the 353 U.S. representatives issued a stark warning that, “As you wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, “it’s not a hard proposition to prove. The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”

The Congressional Letter’s signatories included almost all of both parties’ leaderships, and was greatly aided by Republican Congressman Peter J. Roskam (R-IL-06) of Illinois, a stalwart, and tireless, advocate of Israel as a vital strategic asset of the United States.

In a June 30, 2014, Washington Post opinion-piece entitled “Iranian nuclear deal still is possible, but time is running out,” Secretary Kerry had exhorted Iran to prove it “nuclear program is truly peaceful.”

The Congressional Letter, dated October 1, 2014, focused on Iran’s “refusal to fully cooperate” with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) concerning the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program first outlined by the IAEA in November 2011. The Congressional Letter to Sec. Kerry also stated, “As you know, the IAEA has sought information on the 'potential military dimensions' of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device.”

This Congressional warning follows a similar warning from Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who issued a statement last week that emphasized that “credible sources” alleged that “internal neutron sources such as uranium were used in nuclear implosion tests at [Iran’s] Parchin.”

Steinitz’ Iranian “nuclear detonator” allegations center on the fact that Iran, after close to three years, has failed to explain to the IAEA allegations in the IAEA’s November 2011 report annex, which stated in paragraph 55 that the IAEA “has information from a Member State [likely Pakistan – ML] that Iran has undertaken work to manufacture small capsules suitable as containers of a component containing nuclear material”, and that “Iran may also have experimented with such components in order to assess their performance in generating neutrons.”

Such a device for “generating neutrons” is called a “neutron initiator” (See A.Q. Khan graphic immediately below). Neutron initiators are one of the key components to an “implosion” type of nuclear bombs. Implosion nuclear bombs can use as their bomb “core” either highly-enriched Uranium (U235), or weapons’ grade plutonium (See, A.Q. Khan’s graphic).

AQ Khan's neutron initiator
AQ Khan's neutron initiatorMark Langfan

As is illustrated by A. Q. Khan, the “godfather of the Pakistani nuclear-bomb,” “Neutron initiators” act like “lighter fluid” to an implosion nuclear-bomb nuclear-core, and set off the first burst of the implosion nuclear chain-reaction.

Iran’s alleged testing of such a “nuclear initiators” has been unexplained by Iran to date. Heightening fears that such Iranian testing would prove Iran’s nuclear weapons’ intentions is the fact that “neutron initiators” have no dual purpose. This means there is no “civilian” non-weapons’ purpose to “neutron initiators” which could help Iran explain away Iran’s testing of such a device. Since, there is other non-nuclear dual use, the sole purpose of testing such a neutron initiator would be for the constructing and/or designing of a nuclear bomb.

As for the 353 U.S. Representatives’ immediate concerns, their letter closed ominously by stating:

“As you have written, there is a 'discrepancy…between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date.' We agree with your assessment that “these issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.”