Two days after WND’s exclusive report on the devastating explosions at Iran’s Fordow nuclear site, Tehran informed the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog it was going to install thousands of modern centrifuges at another of its nuclear facilities in an apparent move to restore its bargaining position.
In a Jan. 23 letter to the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, Iran said it plans to install thousands of its upgraded centrifuges at the Natanz facility.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow today that Iran has every legal right under its obligations to the IAEA to enrich uranium, even with the more modern centrifuges.
Iranian media viewed Lavrov’s remarks as supportive of the decision. But the Russian minister also urged the Islamic regime to “freeze enrichment operations” during the negotiations with the 5-plus-1 countries, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
The White House this afternoon called Iran’s decision “provocative.”
Iran, whose economy has been battered by the international sanctions brought by its illicit nuclear program, apparently has lost much of its negotiating position since the incident at Fordow.
The facility, deep under a mountain and immune to conventional airstrikes and most bunker-busting bombs, already had the more modern centrifuges, which could enrich uranium two to three times faster to the 20-percent level, a critical step to weaponization grade.
As reported by WND Jan. 24 with updates on Jan. 27, 29 and 30, explosions rocked the Fordow site Jan. 21, trapping scores of workers, including 16 North Korean technicians and military attaches. The source for the information, a member of the security forces, said rescue efforts were delayed several days because of the fear of radiation.
The source said today some workers have been rescued and there have been casualties. He said a secret, underground tunnel with a stone-covered entrance door about two and a half miles away from the main entrances at Fordow is being used for the rescue efforts.
The source added that regime intelligence agents, since the explosion, have arrested dozens of security force members in charge of protecting Fordow.
The tunnel was built after the secret facility was revealed in 2009. The source said he would provide more information in the coming days to verify the explosions. The U.S. and Iran have denied the incident took place.
Iran’s unusual notification to the IAEA two days after the Fordow incident likely is an indication of panic by the regime. The incident at Fordow must have badly damaged its ability to enrich uranium to the 20-percent level. Accompanying the loss would be a weakening of Iran’s negotiating position with the world powers. Installing the same type of centrifuges at Natanz to keep the output of its highly enriched uranium at same level in its pursuit of a nuclear bomb would mitigate the loss.
European Council members discussed Fordow this morning, but the source said the world intelligence community does not have a full grasp of what really happened at the facility.
As WND previously reported, Iran received intelligence of planned covert operations on its nuclear facilities by Israel and other countries in the West in a last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war. Regime officials adopted a strategy to respond to Israel, with Quds Force members traveling to southern Lebanon to evacuate villages for a likely aggression against Israel.
The Quds Force is an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that reports directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Yesterday, Israeli Air Force jets, attacking inside Syria’s border with Lebanon, bombed a truck convoy that was apparently carrying missile parts and other equipment destined for Hezbollah. Quds Force members reportedly were in the convoy.
Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser on international matters to the Islamic regime’s supreme leader, previously warned Israel that any attack on Syria would be construed as an attack on Iran. Today Iran, Syria and Hezbollah warned that there will be consequences for the attack.