Work surrounding Iran’s latest secret nuclear site continues unabated, new satellite images from DigitalGlobe show.
The existence of the site was revealed by WND on Oct. 8.
The site – Velayat 1 – which is in the province of Isfahan on the outskirts of the small city of Najafabad, was built for research and development and has a capacity of 800 centrifuges for uranium enrichment. It already has successfully tested a neutron detonator and implosion system for a nuclear bomb.
According to the source for the exclusive WND report, research at the site includes design of a nuclear warhead for the Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which is now almost complete. The source added that there is also a nuclear reactor at the site along with a separation plant as another path to acquire a nuclear bomb.
To avoid suspicion, the site was built below a medicine factory called Abu Reyhan. The facility beneath the factory has three levels, with two underground entrances away from the facility.
This is where the father of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, assisted by 10 other scientists, is working on Iran’s nuclear bomb program, within the SEPAND project (known by the IAEA as SPND) and under the AMAD (weapons program) to build atomic warheads.
The new images of the above-ground facility show that main buildings have been completed.
This is an image by Google Earth that dates to early 2000:
This is a new image by DigitalGlobe of the main installation:
The new images also clearly show trees planted around the site, a routine measure by the Islamic regime to hide the facility, according to a specialist on proliferation of atomic weapons who is familiar with Iran’s nuclear program. The trees camouflage barbed wires surrounding the site.
In parts of the vast site, earth has been covered, similar to what took place at the Natanz nuclear facility, a sign of underground building.
Other images show signs of digging and holes in the skirt of the nearby mountain which could corroborate the information about tunnels and passages underground.
According to a source who has been in the underground facility, military trucks covered with tarps for disguise have transferred equipment with “radiation warning” signs to the facility. An entrance on the side of the so-called medicine factory leads to the underground facility.
Another entrance to the underground facility, according to the source, is far to the north of the “medicine factory.” Large equipment has been observed being transferred through the entrance, which is almost a third of the actual size of the factory itself.
One source, with knowledge of the facility, stated that equipment similar to the picture has been installed at the underground site. The source added that several of these devices were taken out of the Lavizan Shian facility back in 2003 when the IAEA found out about that site and they were brought to the new site. He also added that more advanced neutron monitoring and measurement equipment has been purchased from a European country and installed at several sites. According to someone familiar with the device, it is a neutron detector. The white cylinder is a polyethylene moderator surrounding a detector tube, a common neutron detector setup.
Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board to Congress, has experience analyzing imagery of underground facilities from his service at the CIA.
“It is difficult to ascertain the purpose of any underground facility just from imagery,” he cautioned. “We have been studying the Russian deep underground complex at Yamantau Mountain, which is the size of a small city, for years, and it is still a mystery. However, these photos of the facility in Iran have all the earmarks of an elaborate attempt to conceal an underground complex of significant size and strategic purpose by hiding it under a legitimate factory, concealing the original excavations, and elaborate and costly landscaping to screen everything from public view.
“Because an Iranian source of proven reliability claims this is a previously unknown nuclear facility, the allegation should be taken very seriously and regarded as credible,” Fry said. “Iran has a long history of successfully concealing its nuclear weapons program and nuclear facilities. What we know about is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Iran’s nuclear weapons program may well be larger, more sophisticated and more advanced than is generally suspected.”
The site operates under the control of the Revolutionary Guards to expand research and development of nuclear, plutonium and atomic warheads. Its activities include:
- Enriching uranium to weapons grade.
- Testing a neutron detonator and implosion system (chemical explosive lens). As a result of research at this facility, a test was done at Iran’s Parchin military site several months ago. After the revelation of the high-explosives experiment activity, Iran started to clean up the site but continues to stonewall on the IAEA’s request to inspect the Parchin site.
- Designing and building a nuclear warhead to arm Iran’s Shahab-3 ballistic missile.
- Separating plutonium for a plutonium implosion-type fission bomb. Iran’s heavy-water reactor near the city of Arak is nearing completion and is capable of providing spent fuel that, once processed, could produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. The separation of plutonium from fuel is an easy process requiring dual-use off-the-shelf equipment that Iran has already purchased.
The source indicated that Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi’s atomic warhead project seeks to build three nuclear warheads in its initial phase. Tests of the implosion system and neutron generator, the source said, have been successful and the design of the nuclear warhead is nearly complete.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).