Iran has assembled a secret nuclear plant being used to enrich uranium and defy international inspectors, an Iranian opposition group said today.
The National Council for Resistance, a grass-roots Iranian organization, said Tehran was producing enriched uranium and testing biological and chemical warfare projects at a secret plant in northeast Iran which had not been disclosed to United Nations inspectors. They said the plant is housed in a covert Iranian Defense Ministry facility known as the Modern Defensive Readiness and Technology Center and covers about 60 acres of land.
A senior official of the National Council, Muhammad Mohaddessin, said the group had shared the new information “very recently” with the International Atomic Energy Agency. But he and other officials of the group said it had not yet discussed the matter with the U.S. government.
Mohaddessin said inspection of the site his group revealed would demonstrate that Iran is secretly trying to produce nuclear weapons even while promising to freeze a critical part of its declared nuclear program, which it claims is intended for civilian purposes only.
U.N. inspectors “should not be fooled or deceived by the Iranian regime,” Mohaddessin said.
The development comes after the European Union announced this weekend it brokered a deal in which Iran pledged to halt uranium enrichment.
The IAEA said it could still not rule out the possibility that Iran was conducting covert activities.
“All the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities,” the agency said in a report, referring to possible Iran nuclear weapons activity. “The agency is, however, not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.”
The National Council, based in Paris, is the political arm of the People’s Mujahedeen which is listed by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization because of its involvement in attacks on Americans in the 1970s. But the group has in the past accurately revealed the location of several secret nuclear sites in Iran, and is taken very seriously by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies.
If the disclosure proves accurate, it may increase pressure on America and Israel to take decisive action against Iran.
In July, Israel conducted military exercises for a preemptive strike against several of Iran’s nuclear-power facilities and is ready to attack if Russia supplies Iran with rods for enriching uranium.
An Israeli defense source said, “Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors – especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help – to go critical.”
The source also said any strike on Iran’s reactors would probably be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, flying over Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground.