A Russian scientist accused of helping Iran develop the necessary technology to build a nuclear weapon has denied being the brains behind the operation, a Russian newspaper reported.
A report released by the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, earlier this week, said that a "foreign expert" had assisted Iran in developing an advanced detonator to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.
The report stated that Iran was building an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research.
The expert was identified by the Washington Post as Vyacheslav Danilenko, a scientist who had worked on the Soviet nuclear program.
However, according to the the Russian newspaper Kommersant, the 76-year-old Danilenko said:
"I am not a nuclear scientist and I am not the founder of the Iranian nuclear program."
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According to the Associated Press, Danilenko is an expert in detonation nanodiamonds, a process that uses explosions to create tiny diamonds for a range of industrial uses.
Though he had worked in Iran in the 1990s, he told the IAEA that he believed his work was limited to assisting civilian engineering projects.
However, Reuters reported that from the 1950s until his retirement, Danilenko worked at the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics (VNIITF), which is a top secret nuclear weapons research center in the Ural mountains.
Kommersant also reported that Danilenko had also worked in Ukrainian nanodiamond company Alit from 1992 to 1996, Reuters reported.
Alit's director, Vladimir Padalko, said US and IAEA officials had contacted him several times in previous years for information about Danilenko.
"I told them that nanodiamonds have no relation whatsoever to nuclear weapons. They were interested in Danilenko's work in Iran," the paper quoted Padalko as saying.
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