WASHINGTON – Iranian nuclear experts have completed the component for a nuclear bomb trigger, overcoming a major obstacle in obtaining the bomb, according to sources within Iran.
As reported last May, the Iranian nuclear and military industries, under the order of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were to weaponize at least two warheads with a nuclear payload no later than next month.
Sources within the Revolutionary Guards reveal that the work on the trigger is taking place covertly under the control of the Guards in the cities of Darkhovin and Isfahan.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the main brain behind the Iranian nuclear bomb program, is guiding the project. Fakhrizadeh reportedly reports directly to Khamenei and is under tight security because of the assassination of other Iranian nuclear scientists.
The Islamic regime has rejected several requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency to interview him. The U.N. nuclear watchdog believes Fakhrizadeh was responsible for the project "111," which would convert highly enriched uranium into metal for a nuclear warhead and its reentry design.
The IAEA last November indicated that Iran had experimented with firing multiple detonators with a high level of simultaneity. The report also indicated that Iran as early as 2003 began a large-scale experiment to initiate a high-explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell. This indicates work on a nuclear bomb.
According to Sepahonline, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, Iranian nuclear bomb progress is overseen by the supreme leader's military adviser, Rahim Safavi, a former chief commander of the Guards, and a cleric, Mohsen Ghomi, who has communicated the will of the supreme leader for a speedy completion of the project. These activities are taking place at several secret locations unknown to the IAEA. One location reportedly is in the city of Mobarake, south west of Isfahan.
Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the newly established Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board, concludes from IAEA intelligence that Iran's nuclear weapons program is very advanced.
''Iran has already developed hemispherical explosive lenses and highly precise detonators," Pry states, "a clear indicator Iran is working on, or has already built, an implosion-type nuclear weapon. The United States used an implosion atomic bomb during World War II to destroy Nagasaki."
Pry notes that reports that Iran is working on an atomic trigger – a device that helps initiate the fission reaction that results in a nuclear explosion – indicates that Iran's nuclear weaponization is advanced, since this is one of the last steps toward building an atomic warhead. Centrifuge technology has enabled Pakistan, North Korea and now Iran to enrich uranium to weapons grade without requiring enormous, and impossible to disguise, gaseous diffusion plants, thus enabling those countries to build nuclear weapons clandestinely.
''The U.S. Manhattan Project produced two atomic bombs of radically different designs in just three years," Pry says, "yet Iran has supposedly been struggling to build a nuclear weapon for two decades. Some of us believe Iran may already have nuclear weapons but has concealed this from the West in order to avoid a preemptive strike until such time as Iran's nuclear status will become irreversible, as with North Korea."
Pry warns that Iran does not have to develop an ICBM in order to pose a nuclear threat to the United States. ''Iran has already demonstrated the capability to launch a missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon from a freighter at sea."
Iran currently has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs and is enriching uranium to the 20 percent level unabated, despite four sets of U.N. sanctions. Enriching to the 20 percent level is nine-tenths of the way to weaponization. It takes only several weeks to further enrich the 20 percent stock into weapons-grade material over the 90 percent level.
In another major development parallel to Iran's nuclear program, Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, announced that Iran will launch a one-ton satellite into orbit in the Iranian New Year (starting March 20).
Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, who is wanted by Interpol for the Jewish Community Center bombing in 1994, stated that Iran is setting up a new base for the launch of the heavier satellite.
Iran, which launched its first satellite in 2009, successfully sent another satellite into orbit on Feb. 3. Though the payload was only 110 pounds, it was sufficient to deliver a nuclear artillery shell to intercontinental distances.
The news of a heavier satellite should come as a warning to the West, as the one-ton payload could very well carry a nuclear bomb any distance on earth.
Historically, orbiting a satellite is the criterion used for crediting a nation with ICBM capability.
Last December I revealed that China, in a secret agreement with the Islamic regime, had sold Iran ICBM technology and that the North Koreans were working with the Guards in assembling the missiles, which once complete will have a range of over 6,000 miles and will have America within its range.
In an alarming indication that Iran and North Korea are collaborating on nuclear bombs, radioisotope data from Russian and Japanese stations close to North Korea suggest that North Korea likely conducted two nuclear tests in 2010. At the same time, reports from inside Iran indicated a team of Iranian nuclear scientists had been sent to North Korea and that the two governments have agreed on a joint nuclear test in North Korea with a substantial financial reward to North Korea.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in another defiant speech on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on Saturday, announced that the world will soon witness another major accomplishment in the Iranian nuclear program within days. The Iranian president said his nation will ''never yield" to Western sanctions and threats of military action from Israel and the United States.
Negotiation and sanctions will not deter the Islamic regime in Iran to change its course from obtaining the nuclear bomb. It is not the economy, it is the ideology.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award-winning book, "A Time to Betray." He is a senior Fellow with EMPact America and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA)