NCRI – The following is a report by the Global Security Newswire published on January 10 covering a briefing on Iranian regime’s secret nuclear activities sponsored by Iran Policy Committee:
By Joe Fiorill
WASHINGTON — Iran has begun building platforms in two underground halls on which it could soon begin installing up to 5,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges it has produced, former National Council of Resistance of Iran chief spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh said here today (see GSN, Nov. 22, 2005).
Jafarzadeh, now a private consultant in Washington, cited sources in the Iranian government in leveling this latest allegation, which came at a briefing at the National Press Club. His resistance group became prominent in 2002 when its information led the International Atomic Energy Agency to suspicious nuclear work at Natanz, the site about which Jafarzadeh spoke today, and at another Iranian facility, Arak.
“In addition to preparing the foundations for the centrifuge machines, Iran has already manufactured as many as 5,000 centrifuge machines ready to be installed in Natanz, which is a clear breach of its agreement with the IAEA and the European Union,” Jafarzadeh said, alluding to Iran’s promise to freeze enrichment activity while in talks on its controversial programs.
Construction should be completed in the underground halls by the middle of this year, and all “side tasks,” such as bringing water and gas lines to the facility, are expected to be finished by March 2007, Jafarzadeh said.
The allegations came as concerns about Iran’s activities reached new highs in Western capitals with the removal, under IAEA supervision, of seals on nuclear equipment at Natanz (see related GSN story, today).
Tehran announced this week that it would resume nuclear research and that talks with Moscow over the possibility of uranium enrichment in Russia for Iran’s programs — a setup that would remove a sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle from Iranian hands — would be put on hold for a month.
Jafarzadeh said the latest news from Iran “confirms” and “strengthens” his case about the dangers of work being conducted at Natanz. He said Iran has “for months” been working toward “jump-starting” enrichment at Natanz despite its freeze pledge.
“The operation in Natanz was really never frozen,” he said.
Jafarzadeh said Iran’s announcement that it would resume research at Natanz was a “cover” for nuclear-weapon work, which he said is being carried out by two companies — the Tose’eh Silo Co. and Sazeh Pardaz Co. — that report to the Iranian military.
“My information suggests that what Iran is planning to do is to restart, or to jump-start, the actions at Natanz step by step,” he said. The first step, he said, was the announcement of resumed work at Natanz, and the second step would be the introduction of uranium hexafluoride into centrifuges.
Iran has argued that its nuclear program is meant only to produce energy, and is its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Nuclear Control Institute founder Paul Leventhal said at the briefing that in light of Jafarzadeh’s information, the International Atomic Energy Agency should “demand immediate access to the areas where these secret activities allegedly are taking place.” That step, Leventhal indicated, should set in motion a sequence of events that, unless Iran cooperated, would end with a prompt referral of the case to the U.N. Security Council.
“In November, Iran’s parliament voted to resume uranium enrichment if the IAEA board referred Iran to the U.N. Security Council,” Leventhal said. “Now, Iran appears ready to resume enrichment work … and thereby precipitate the crisis it was presumably seeking to forestall.”
“Recall also that the Iranian parliament also voted to kick out IAEA inspectors in the event of referral of Iran to the Security Council. Perhaps that is now to be the next step for the regime in its reckless pursuit of direct confrontation with Europe and the United States and its defiance of the international community at large,” Leventhal said.
Former U.S. National Security Council member Raymond Tanter illustrated his view of the danger posed by Iran by projecting two photographs side-by-side: a smiling British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meeting in 1938 with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and a smiling U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan meeting last year with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Tanter said he was comparing Annan neither to Hitler nor to Chamberlain but that “appeasement” was a danger in the Iran case. “It looks as though the hard-landing option will probably be the most likely one” to work for the United States in confronting Iran, he said, because the “mullahs going back to the mosques” is unlikely to occur. Examples of the “hard-landing option” could include confrontational strategies such as a naval blockade or economic sanctions, Tanter said.
The Iran Policy Committee, a group that favors forcing out the Iranian government and of which Tanter is a founder, sponsored today’s briefing.