After infiltrating a Tehran warehouse two years ago, agents from Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, seized a massive collection of old plans, blueprints, electronic files and documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Material from this hidden archive demonstrated how the Islamic Republic had achieved far more in the area of nuclear weapons development, particularly the process of weaponization, than previously thought.
The extent of its progress has worrying implications as the regime scales back its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As Iran reduces the amount of time required for it to build nuclear weapons, US and allied governments should urgently push the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to fully characterize and account for Iran’s nuclear weapons activities.
The cache of top secret documents from Iran’s clandestine archive show the Islamic Republic had a structured, full pace effort called the Amad Plan, which sought by mid-2003 to make five nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. As international inspectors encroached in 2003, the regime decided to disperse the most damning of its illicit activities and experiments to non-civilian sites.
Materials from the archive add significantly to a previous body of evidence gathered by the IAEA and governments about covert weaponization-related experiments and processes in Iran.
The Israeli government released archival materials to private research institutes, whose assessments provide a public accounting of Iran’s weaponization prowess, and therefore, its abbreviated timeline to a nuclear weapon. Iran previously denied that it ever had a nuclear weaponization program, but the archive’s materials show these claims to be a clear exercise in disinformation.
Iran in fact had a weaponization program, which it called the Amad Plan’s “Project 110.” This included high explosives manufacture and testing; nuclear weapons design; production of a shock wave generator to initiate nuclear explosions; work on a neutron source for the warhead core; and creation of other necessary nuclear weapons components. The archive also provided locations of previously unknown sites.