Sunday, February 17, 2008


If you want to hear more about the Iranian nuclear scientists, wait until you hear the long history of Mansour Habashizadeh, an extremely interesting person who began his professional career 30 years ago.

But if you think he is professionally qualified for his important and sensitive position – you will judge for yourselves.

Mansour Habashizadeh is a metallurgy engineer, and one of the veteran scientists in the AEOI. He has a masters degree in nuclear studies. He does not have a PhD.

He worked in France for about three years before the Revolution. After the revolution, he started work at the ENTC.

This May he will celebrate his 55th birthday. Habashizadeh considers himself one of the few scientists in Iran who deal with metals. His area of expertise is metal quality control at the nuclear reactor. He is responsible for ensuring that the metals meet ISO9000 standards.

It is also his job to make sure that the core of the reactor is built of suitable materials so as to prevent malfunctioning like at Chernobyl. He speaks three languages – Farsi, English and French. He was born on 24 May 1953.

He is married to Nasrin Eghbali. They have two daughters Niloufar and Elmira. During his career he traveled abroad often for various courses – to Slovakia, Italy, China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany.

In his last position – until early 2006, he was head of the ENTC (Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center). The ENTC is an important and leading center in reactors and fuel cycles.

Later, he went on to manage the ZPP before his planned retirement. He was appointed to this position because of his intimate knowledge of the set up process of the facility with Chinese assistance. >From 1971-1974 Habashizadeh earned a BA in Materials Engineering from the Sharif University.

During his studies he also went to Belgium. In 1978-1979 he studied for his masters degree at an academy called F.A.R Research Center in France, in metallurgy and corrosion (the effects of corrosion on metals as a result of chemical reactions).

Later he also studied nuclear technology at the MOL Institute (Center D\Etudes Nuclearies) – the nuclear research center in Belgium.His jobs over the years point to a career that would not embarrass any nuclear scientist. From 1974-1976 he worked at the Iranian Steel Mill Corporation as Head of ROLLING MIILI FURNACES.

Afterwards, from 1977 he worked in IRAN GENERAL MOTORS as a metallurgist in the QC Lab. In 1977 he began his career at the AEOI. In November 1984 he went on a year’s study course at the S.C.K. Research Center MOL in Belgium, to study for a doctorate in Physics, Metallurgy.

His thesis was on De Fusion: Experience Fatigue des Materiaux .

In July 1994, Habashizadeh was head of the mechanical engineering department at the ENTC, in the Materials Engineering Division. The Center, headed by Rassouly, was divided at the time into four departments:a. Research and Engineeringb. Engineering and Developmentc. Materials Engineering Department (headed by Habashizadeh)d.

Procurement Directorate

That same year it was also learned that Habashizadeh was responsible for the Zirconium project (ZPP) – the plant that produces the zirconium coating for the rods and control for the Arak and Bushehr reactors. At the end of 1988 Habashizadeh was appointed head of the ENTC by Aghazadeh after Rassouly resigned.

However, Habashizadeh continued to present himself as the deputy head of the ENTC. With his appointment a big problem was created. His predecessor was sent away to Vienna as AEOI representative to the IAEA. What problem are we alluding to?

Why then, did they for several months conceal Habashzadeh’s appointment from the other managers and employees at the Center?

With Habashizadeh’s appointment to the ENTC, a situation was created in which the department managers had no professional or managerial authority above them, and they acted as they saw fit, in terms of their professional judgment, religious, political and other pressures on them.

According to nuclear experts, Habashizadeh was not seen as understanding the nuclear issues which the center dealt with, and their assessment at the time was that Habashizadeh would not last long in the position.

The influence of religion is seen in a variety of daily activities, and managers at the center are required to show ideological identity and participate in activities that set a ‘personal example’ to the workers, even though some of them do not believe in it.

But in fact, Habashizadeh was officially appointed to this position only in April 2000 in place of Rassouly. Since the appointment the same old policies and the same old trends continue. The appointment was a political one!!

In late 1999-early 2000, the name of the ENTC was changed to the Center for Research and Production of Nuclear Fuel in Esfahan. The intention was that the nuclear center in Esfahan would serve as a center for nuclear fuel production and focus on projects in this field.

The projects meeting this definition are: the UCF and the ZPP, and the 40 MW capacity reactor. Habashizadeh left all the managers in their positions.

Habashizadeh did not live in the ENTC staff compound, but in an apartment in Esfahan where he moved after his appointment. Needless to say, the ENTC workers accepted his appointment and did not object.

However, the workers are always disgruntled mainly because of their work conditions and low pay. Thus there is constant criticism of the management.

In May 2005 Habashizadeh planned to retire? Did this happen? Why did he take his time?

It was then learned that he went to manage the ZPP zirconium plant, before his retirement. Despite this appointment, most of his attention was diverted elsewhere.

Why did Habashizadeh not retire in 2005 and make way for his successor? If one tries to answer this question, well then it is not so complicated.

As early as 1999 Habashizadeh was earning about 700 dollars a month, when the average wage at the time was about 200 dollars a month. This salary enabled him to live in a good apartment in town and not in the ENTC compound.

In such a situation, it is no wonder then that the workers are dissatisfied with the management. Money is a main component of nuclear scientists’ motivation.
If it wasn’t for the high salary they receive, it is doubtful whether they would have chosen to engage in developing nuclear technology, or would have found their way out of the country.

More articles will deal with another nuclear scientist.

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