Explosion at Iran arms depot focuses attention on regime nuclear stonewalling


A range of Western news outlets reported Monday morning that an explosion had rocked the Iranian military base at Parchin - where the UN's nuclear watchdog (IAEA) suspects Iranian scientists conducted work related to nuclear weaponization - just a day before an IAEA team was set to land in the Islamic republic in an bid to secure access to sites where military-related atomic work is thought to have occurred. The BBC conveyed a report from the regime-linked Iranian Students News Agency, which described a fire in "explosive materials production unit" and which quoted Iranian officials acknowledging that "two workers of this production unit lost their lives." Reuters conveyed a similar report from Iran's official IRNA news outlet, describing a fire at an explosives factory somewhere east of Tehran. Both outlets also quoted an Iranian opposition website putting the exact location as inside the Parchin complex, though analysts cautioned that the latter reports were not entirely trustworthy. The rumors in any case renewed focus on Parchin specifically and more broadly on widespread suspicions - described across years of IAEA reports - that the Iranian military engaged in atomic research, up to and including experiments related to the construction and detonation of nuclear warheads. The IAEA has been seeking access to Parchin since 2005, and has concluded that Iranian scientists conducted tests at the facility that were likely aimed at the successful detonation of a nuclear warhead. The Israelis last month revealed that they had intelligence, which they assessed as "highly reliable information," documenting full-blown weaponization work at Parchin. IAEA nuclear experts arrived Monday night in Tehran in anticipation of Tuesday talks aimed at securing access that Iran is obligated to give to Parchin and beyond, after the agency last month issued a blistering report accusing Iran of stonewalling inspectors, destroying evidence, and sabotaging verification efforts. At stake are long-standing international demands that Iran come clean about the so-called "possible military dimensions" (PMDs) of its nuclear program. Iranian disclosure is considered essential to setting a baseline for any future verification regime: In the most basic sense, inspectors would need a full accounting of Iran's atomic work to ensure that the Iranians had ceased such work. American lawmakers and Western diplomats have long emphasized the degree to which full Iranian disclosure must be part of any robust and credible deal between Tehran and the West. Potential backsliding by the P5+1 on the issue has generated concerns among analysts not just about the substance of any agreement, but also about the credibility of any future non-proliferation demands. Danielle Pletka, senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told journalists on a Monday conference call held by The Israel Project that IAEA credibility was closely linked to the fate of the Non-Proliferation Treaty writ large, to the point where "the very existence and credibility of the NPT and the IAEA hang in the balance."


Tel Aviv University researchers are literally setting a new gold standard in cardiac tissue engineering to develop functional substitutes for damaged heart tissues. Because heart cells cannot multiply and cardiac muscles contain few stem cells, heart tissue is unable to repair itself after a heart attack. So, Dr. Tal Dvir and his graduate student Michal Shevach of TAU’s Department of Biotechnology,Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, set out to develop innovative methods to restore heart function. Using sophisticated micro- and nanotechnological tools — ranging in size from one millionth to one billionth of a meter — they created cardiac “patches” with gold particles that could be transplanted into the body to replace damaged heart tissue. The integration of gold nanoparticles into cardiac tissue, Dr. Dvir and his team discovered, increased the conductivity of biomaterials. “To address our electrical signaling problem, we deposited gold nanoparticles on the surface of our patient-harvested matrix, ‘decorating’ the biomaterial with conductors,” said Dr. Dvir. “The result was that the nonimmunogenic hybrid patch contracted nicely due to the nanoparticles, transferring electrical signals much faster and more efficiently than non-modified scaffolds.” In a study published by Nano Letters, Dr. Dvir’s team presented their model for a superior hybrid cardiac patch, which incorporates biomaterial harvested from patients and gold nanoparticles. “Our goal was twofold,” said Dr. Dvir. “To engineer tissue that would not trigger an immune response in the patient and to fabricate a functional patch not beset by signaling or conductivity problems.” (via Israel21c)

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