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Iran mourns death of missile expert as report links Israel
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Nov 14, 2011

Major General Hassan Moqaddam. File image courtesy AFP.

Iran held solemn funerals for 17 Revolutionary Guards killed in a munitions blast on Monday, including a key figure in its ballistic missiles programme, as a US magazine pointed a finger at Israel.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attended one ceremony held in Tehran, in honour of Major General Hassan Moqaddam and seven other Guards members, according to footage aired by state television.

Moqaddam, responsible for industrial research to ensure the Guards' self-sufficiency in armaments, specialised in artillery during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war before founding the force's ballistic programme, according to information provided by officials in Tehran.

The 17 Revolutionary Guards were killed on Saturday in an explosion described as accidental by Iran that rocked a military base in Bid Ganeh, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Tehran.

The blast occurred as "ammunition was taken out of the depot and was being moved outside toward the appropriate site," Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said, without mentioning why Moqaddam was present at the site.

But Moqaddam's deputy said he "was busy with his scientific research work until his dying moments."

"He had an accident as he was carrying out scientific and research tasks and was martyred," commander Mousavi, whose first name was not given, was quoted as telling the ISNA news agency.

Moqaddam had "spent 25 years of his life to establish and develop the (missile) defence programme" of Iran, Mousavi added.

Set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Guards are in charge of Iran's missile programme, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) capable of hitting Israel.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday hailed the deadly munitions blast and said he hoped for more such incidents.

"I don't know the extent of the explosion," Barak told Israel's military radio when asked about the incident. "But it would be desirable if they multiply."

Time magazine on Monday said the explosion was the work of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, citing an unidentified "Western intelligence source."

"Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," the source told Time, adding that other plans were in effect to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. "There are more bullets in the magazine."

A top Guards commander meanwhile admitted Monday that Moqaddam had been a sought-after potential target, without questioning the cause of the incident.

"Iran's current missile capability is owed to commander Moqaddam's efforts," Brigadier General Abbas Khani told the official IRNA news agency, adding that "due to his role... the enemy always wanted to identify and eliminate him."

Saturday's blast came amid international condemnation of Iran following the release of a new UN nuclear watchdog report accusing Tehran of working towards the development of nuclear warheads to fit inside its medium-range missiles.

Iran has long rejected Western and Israeli allegations that its nuclear programme is geared toward military objectives, saying its activities are solely civilian.

Israeli officials in past weeks have warned Iran of the possibility of military strikes against its nuclear sites.

US military experts in late October proposed in Congress that the United States organise covert operations to assassinate commanders of the Revolutionary Guards.

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Russian expert advised Iran on nuclear program: report
Washington (AFP) Nov 14, 2011 - Iran apparently had the help of a noted Russian scientist in developing a detonator and high explosives for its nuclear program, a Washington-based non-governmental group has said.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) identified Russian scientist Vycheslav Danilenko as having had the know-how to help Iran weaponize its atomic program in a report released Sunday.

It based its conclusion on the findings issued last week by the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which expressed serious concerns about "credible" evidence of Iran working towards the development of nuclear warheads to fit inside its medium-range missiles.

The IAEA said there were "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 related experiments were assisted by the work of a foreign expert."

The expert "was not only knowledgeable in these technologies... (but) worked for much of his career with this technology in the nuclear weapon program of the country of his origin," the IAEA said.

"Given his background and experience, this ex-Soviet nuclear weapons expert was well versed in key aspects of developing nuclear weapons," the ISIS report said, adding that Danilenko also has experience "in the important area of the diagnostics of high explosions."

The ISIS report noted that according to the IAEA Danilenko contacted the Iranian embassy in mid-1995, offering his particular expertise in producing ultra-dispersed diamonds (UDD or nanodiamonds).

He worked at Iran's Sharif University and under the aegis of Dr Seyed Abbas Shahmoradi, who headed the country's Physics Research Center.

"As head of Iran's secret nuclear sector involved in the development of nuclear weapons, Shahmoradi would have undoubtedly recognized Danilenko's value to an incipient nuclear weapons effort," the ISIS report said.


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Iran Guards say missile unit pioneer killed in blast
Tehran (AFP) Nov 13, 2011
A senior general who pioneered an artillery and missile unit was among those killed in a munitions blast that ripped through a base of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, a Sunday statement said. Major General Hassan Moqaddam was responsible for industrial research aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency of the Revolutionary Guards' armaments, the statement said. The explosion on Saturday rock ... read more

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