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Annex | Initiation of high explosives and associated experiments

C.6. Initiation of high explosives and associated experiments

41. Detonators provide point source initiation of explosives, generating a naturally diverging detonation wave. In an implosion type nuclear explosive device, an additional component, known as a multipointinitiation system, can be used to reshape the detonation wave into a converging smooth implosion to ensure uniform compression of the core fissile material to supercritical density. 39

42. The Agency has shared with Iran information provided by a Member State which indicates that Iranhas had access to information on the design concept of a multipoint initiation system that can be used to initiate effectively and simultaneously a high explosive charge over its surface.40  The Agency has been able to confirm independently that such a design concept exists and the country of origin of that design concept. Furthermore, the Agency has been informed by nuclear-weapon States that the specific multipoint initiation concept is used in some known nuclear explosive devices. In its 117 page submissionto the Agency in May 2008, Iran stated that the subject was not understandable to Iran and that Iran hadnot conducted any activities of the type referred to in the document.

43. Information provided to the Agency by the same Member State referred to in the previous paragraph describes the multipoint initiation concept referred to above as being used by Iran in at least one large scale experiment in 2003 to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell. According to that information, during that experiment, the internal hemispherical curved surface of the high explosive charge was monitored using a large number of optical fibre cables, and the light output of the explosive upon detonation was recorded with a high speed streak camera. It should be noted that the dimensions of the initiation system and the explosives used with it were consistent with the dimensions for the new payload which, according to the alleged studies documentation, were given to the engineers who were studying how to integrate the new payload into the chamber of the Shahab 3 missile re-entry vehicle (Project 111) (see Section C.11 below). Further information provided to the Agency by the same Member State indicates that the large scale high explosive experiments were conducted by Iran in the region of Marivan.

44. The Agency has strong indications that the development by Iran of the high explosives initiation system, and its development of the high speed diagnostic configuration used to monitor relatedexperiments, were assisted by the work of a foreign expert who was not only knowledgeable in these technologies, but who, a Member State has informed the Agency, worked for much of his career with this technology in the nuclear weapon programme of the country of his origin. The Agency has reviewed publications by this foreign expert and has met with him. The Agency has been able to verify through three separate routes, including the expert himself, that this person was in Iran from about 1996 to about 2002, ostensibly to assist Iran in the development of a facility and techniques for making ultra-disperseddiamonds (“UDDs” or “nanodiamonds”), where he also lectured on explosion physics and its applications.

45. Furthermore, the Agency has received information from two Member States that, after 2003, Iran engaged in experimental research involving a scaled down version of the hemispherical initiation systemand high explosive charge referred to in paragraph 43 above, albeit in connection with non-nuclear applications. This work, together with other studies made known to the Agency in which the same initiation system is used in cylindrical geometry, could also be relevant to improving and optimizing the multipoint initiation design concept relevant to nuclear applications.

46. The Agency’s concern about the activities described in this Section derives from the fact that amultipoint initiation system, such as that described above, can be used in a nuclear explosive device. However, Iran has not been willing to engage in discussion of this topic with the Agency.

 

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2 comments on “Annex | Initiation of high explosives and associated experiments

  1. […] Experiment -“high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell”. compatible dimensi… […]

  2. […] Experiment -“high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell”, compatible dimensi… […]

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