The Art of Shahmoradi

You all know and love Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the least secret secret nuclear weapons program manager of all time. He gets all the press these days, even if his near mythical abilities are slightly exaggerated every now and then

Let’s leave Fakhrizadeh for a minute: it’s about time that some respect was paid to one of the more modest Iran nuke hall-of-famers, Seyyed Abbas Shahmoradi Zavareh. Not heard of him? You should have. From about 1989 onward, Shahmoradi headed the Physics Research Centre, or PHRC, which was the first proper iteration of the Iranian military’s centralised nuclear weapon research efforts.

Shahmoradi’s not so well-known for one good reason. If Fakhrizadeh is Iran’s Robert Oppenheimer – a skilled technocrat and manager – Shahmoradi was more like Iran’s Rick Moranis in Honey I Shrunk the Kids: endearing, enduring, and not entirely effective.

That flaw was Shahmoradi’s undoing. If you were alive at the end of the 1990s, you may have noted, as Shahmoradi’s paymasters at Iran’s Ministry of Defence certainly did, that Iran had neither acquired nor detonated any weapons of the nuclear variety. The blame for this shortcoming fell, not unreasonably, on Dr Shahmoradi: who, after all, had been up top at MODAFL’s secret nuclear weapons outfit for more than ten years. Hence, when everyone else was partying like it was 1999 – because it actually was 1999 – Shahmoradi was unceremoniously kicked to the curb, and replaced by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – the IRGC’s own sexy MF. Fakhrizadeh’s been in charge one way or another ever since.

In retrospect, did Shahmoradi do such a bad job? Not entirely.

Apart from buying the basis of a fairly decent nuclear weapons laboratory from unwitting suppliers across Europe (slightly easier before the world cottoned onto Iran’s worldwide illicit procurement activities, not to mention that whole AQ Khan network thing), Shahmoradi also arranged the hook-up with VV Danilenko , without which Iran wouldn’t have a nuclear weapon design that’s squeezable onto a missile.

He’s not just a talented nuclear procurer, he’s an artist. He came up with this totally awesome logo for the PHRC:


Not unsurprisingly, the IAEA has been looking to speak to Dr Shahmoradi again for some time now. And probably not for graphic design assistance.

It might help if the IAEA was reminded what Shahmoradi looked like. He’s got a beard! No, I can do better than that. This is Shahmoradi in his post-PHRC role:


Schlepping medical supplies at trade fairs sure isn’t as glamorous as running a clandestine nuclear weapons program, but note the smile on his face. I’ll bet he’s a lot happier these days.


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