July 28, 2015
How Israel Justified the Killing of an Iranian Researcher
Posted on Mar 17, 2012
By Gareth Porter, Truthout
The title of the professional paper by Rezaeinejad that was cited as evidence of his ties to a nuclear weapons work, written for the 2008 Iranian Conference on Electrical Engineering, was translated into English as “Design, Build and Test an Explosive Closing Switch.” His co-author on the paper, which can be found on the Internet, was indeed Dadashnejad, and the paper refers to a “test explosion of a switch for switching packets.”
But the Israeli official and his former UN “nuclear inspector” were implying that the “explosion” to be tested involved high explosives such as would be used to detonate a nuclear weapon. That was profoundly misleading, according to Dr. Behrad Nakhai, a nuclear engineer and former research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “One shouldn’t make too much of the word ‘explosive’ in the title and in the abstract,” said Nakhai, who suggested that “spark” would be a more appropriate term to describe what was tested in Rezaeinejad’s research.
In fact, the abstract also refers to the closing switch in question as a “spark gap switch.”
The “key words” accompanying the abstract further suggest that the closing switch Rezaeinejad was developing was for an “explosive pulsed power” system, an electric power technology which uses an explosive to produce the most rapid release of energy possible.
Square, Site wide
Explosive pulsed power (EPP) was originally developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and its Soviet counterpart in support of the respective governments’ nuclear weapons programs. But in recent decades, EPP programs have sprung up in a number of countries as scientists and engineers have discovered a range of military and nonmilitary applications. The US Air Force, for example, is using EPP for aerospace missions requiring extremely high peak energy supplies provided by much more compact power sources. In addition, EPP is used for high-power lasers, high-power microwave sources and other commercial applications.
As for Rezaeinejad’s co-author, Dadashnejad, there is no institutional affiliation listed and no further record of any publications. Three Iranian-American scientists and engineers have told this writer that inquiries to their colleagues in the academic community in Iran about that individual have brought the same response: no one has heard of him. Nakhai believes that Dadashnejad may not have been a specialist on explosive testing, as the “former UN weapons inspector” and Israeli intelligence suggested, but merely a junior laboratory technician who helped Rezaeinejad assemble materials and carry out the testing.
Nakhai noted that the publication of that paper itself is actually strong evidence that neither Rezaeinejad nor Dadashnejad had any involvement whatever in anything related to nuclear weapons research. “If an individual were involved the design and production of any part of a nuclear weapon,” he told me, “they would not have been allowed to publish any paper with even the slightest hint of the research and development.”
Two other professional papers by Rezaeinejad confirm the fact that he had been carrying out rudimentary research on basic electrical technologies with a range of commercial applications. In a paper published at the same annual conference on electrical engineering in 2007, Rezaeinejad had described research on electrolyte resistors for a high-voltage pulsed power system. Such resistors are found in most electronic equipment.
And in 2006, Rezaeinejad presented a paper on the “Design and Simulation of a 5000 kV Marx Generator.” The Marx generator is a basic technology for generating high-voltage pulses used in testing the insulation of electrical systems such as large power transformers.
The story peddled by the Israeli “intelligence summary,” that Iranian officials suspected Dadashnejad of having “leaked” information about the sensitive work it claimed he and Rezaeinejad were doing for the military, was even more far-fetched. The logical implication of that claim would be that Dadashnejad—supposedly a top scientist in the nuclear weapons program—had reported Rezaeinejad’s work to Israeli intelligence. Perhaps it was imagined that such a detail would lend more credibility to the idea of Rezaeinejad as secretly working on nuclear weapons.
What Associated Press and the raft of newspapers which featured Jahn’s story should have asked themselves—even without having carefully examined the details of the claims—was why a researcher involved in a covert nuclear weapons program would go about his daily life in Tehran without the slightest security precautions, despite the previous assassination or attempted assassination of three Iranian scientists.
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