BY: National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee
On August 14, 2002, the National Council of Resistance of Iran in a press conference in Washington, DC, based on information obtained by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) through its extensive network in Iran, which showed that two of the regime’s key nuclear sites had been kept secret up to that point: the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and the heavy water reactor at Arak.
It was not long before alarm bells rang around the world regarding the mullahs’ efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
For the past 20 years, there has been a constant struggle between the international community and the mullahs’ regime to determine the nature and hidden aspects of the mullahs’ nuclear program and their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
On one hand, the mullahs have resorted to all sorts of systemic tricks in an effort to avoid revealing the truth to the international community so that they could secretly advance various aspects of their sinister project and obtain the nuclear bomb.
On the other side, the Iranian Resistance continued its revelations.
In the meantime, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to obtain definite answers regarding Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program, but it has constantly faced stonewalling, deception, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability by the mullahs.
On November 20, 2011, when Yukiya Amano was Secretary-General of the IAEA, the agency’s quarterly report on the regime’s nuclear program included an unprecedented amendment examining possible military dimensions. The report, which detailed the agency’s disputes with the Iranian regime in the field of verification, served as a reference on PMD until the signing of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015.
As part of the JCPOA in July 2015, the IAEA was tasked to provide a final report on outstanding issues pertinent to PMD of Iran’s nuclear program. Due to policy of appeasement and despite the fact that the regime had left almost every outstanding issue unanswered, the final report presented by the IAEA on December 2, 2015, virtually left the outstanding issues without a definitive answer and clarification.
Beginning in March 2020, the Agency addressed questions to the regime regarding three sites, later adding a fourth. Over the past few years, the regime has not responded convincingly to the IAEA, despite numerous agreements and various deadlines, and has effectively brought the investigation to a standstill.
In its latest report, dated May 30, 2022, the IAEA revealed unprecedented details about its exchanges with the Iranian regime and the results of investigations into the four sites suspected of involvement in the nuclear weapons project.
This report exposes the mullahs’ apparatus and its key players in charge of deceit and lying to the international community in general and the IAEA in particular over the years.
Apparatus and mechanism for deception & lies on the nuclear program
The regime’s deceptive statements regarding the function and nature of its nuclear weapons program in general and regarding IAEA’s investigations in specific reveal a systematic and methodical strategy with the following specific characteristics:
- Decision-making at the highest levels
- Using the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) as a cover and shield for its bomb-making project
- Using unreal geographical locations for naming its nuclear sites in order to divert possible tracking, identification and surveillance
- Providing tampered documents or producing fabricated documents (specifically for submission to the IAEA)
- Long procrastination and delays between the time of IAEA inspection requests and the time those inspections are eventually granted (due to insistence from IAEA), resulting in systematic cleanup and defacing of the suspected sites in that period
- Attempts to access the IAEA’s internal documentation and use them to generate future responses to IAEA inquiries
- Continuous changes to the name and location of the entity responsible for the weaponization aspect of the nuclear program
- A specific group of senior officials primarily consisting of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers and military top brass, directly following this issue closely and in details
- Improvising answers to IAEA Inquiries by senior officials who themselves were pursuing the nuclear weapons project
One of the important issues in the regime’s negotiations process with the IAEA is the existence of an apparatus for deception and lying to the IAEA.
The Iranian Resistance’s investigation has shown that over the years, a specific group of top officials in the IRGC has followed this issue, and those responsible for responding to the IAEA in the investigation have, in fact, themselves been key figures in the bomb-making system within the regime.
Iranian Resistance has identified several members of this group:
1. Mohammad Eslami, current Head of the AEOI
In March 2022, Mohammad Eslami, the Head of the AEOI, signed an agreement with Rafael Grossi to cooperate with the IAEA’s investigations.
In 1987, he was a key figure in acquiring the atomic bomb blueprint during a meeting with Abdul Qadeer Khan (also known as A.Q. Khan), the Pakistani nuclear physicist dubbed as the “father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons program”. During this time, A Q Khan also ran an international smuggling ring.
In 2005, the Iranian Resistance revealed in Washington, DC, that Mohammad Eslami, as the head of the IRGC Physics Research Center, had met with A.Q. Khan in Tehran as the head of a three-member group of Iranian officials. In fact, he has been cognizant of and involved in the regime’s nuclear weapons program for the past 35 years.
The IRGC Research Unit (Center), which started operating around 1983 in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war, was the original institute to initiate research for the manufacturing of weapons within the IRGC. The IRGC officers and staff who worked in this center subsequently became professors of the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University in their specialized fields and were among the IRGC top brass. During the early years of this center, the head of the IRGC Research Unit, was engineer Mohammad Eslami, who was appointed as the Head of AEOI by Ebrahim Ra’isi on August 29, 2021. One of the most important subsections of the IRGC Research Unit was the section for the area of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in which many of the IRGC’s highest current specialists in the production of weapons of mass destruction worked.
Among these people was Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, who had a degree in nuclear physics. Later, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi also began working on the production of nuclear weapons at the same research center and took command of the project. Other key figures in the construction of nuclear weapons, such as Saeed Borji (expert in high explosives), were IRGC officers and members of the same team.
After the end of the Iran-Iraq war, during the years 1991 to 1993, following the merger of the scattered military research centers established by the IRGC and other organizations during the war, the “Defense Education and Research Institute” was created as a subsection of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics. Mohammad Eslami was the head of this institute from 2004 to 2007.
Given that Mohammad Eslami was the head of the IRGC Research Center in the 1980s, he took part in a meeting that was coordinated and set up by Reza Amrollahi, then the Head of the AEOI, with A.Q. Khan for the IRGC commanders to discuss with him issues regarding building a nuclear weapon. The meeting took place in Amrollahi’s office. Mohammad Eslami was the head of the IRGC’s three-member delegation in two meetings in 1986 and 1987. In 1987 A.Q. Khan also met with other officials of the AEOI, including Mohammad Reza Ayat Elahi, deputy head of the organization, and Dr. Mohammad Haj Saeed.
Subsequent to these meetings, A.Q. Khan, in addition to handing over the P1 and P2 centrifuge blueprints, would also hand over a blueprint for the construction of nuclear weapons to the IRGC delegations. Mohammad Eslami was placed on the UN Security Council’s sanctions list in 2008, as a person involved in Iran’s proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.
2. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi
He joined the IRGC at the beginning of the revolution. He studied nuclear engineering and worked at the IRGC Research Center. He became a member of the faculty of the Physics department of the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University in 1991. After Seyyed Abbas Shahmoradi, he became the director of the Physics Research Center or the Institute of Applied Physics (the entity in charge of the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program at the time). Inside the regime, the original team that pursued the nuclear weapons project was called the Fakhrizadeh team. His nickname within the regime was Dr. Hassan Mohseni (Hassan is his father’s name and Mohsen is his first name, which was used as a cover for a family name). In November 2004, the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi as the head of the entity pursuing bomb manufacture. His name is on the Security Council Resolution 1747 sanctions list. For years, the IAEA had insisted upon interviewing him, but the regime refused.
Numerous documents available to the IAEA regarding PMD for Iran’s nuclear program carried his signature as the highest official directly in charge of the nuclear weapon entity at Iran’s Department of Defense. (He was regarded as the chief of Iran’s nuclear program and was killed on November 27, 2020)
The Farsi documents from the regime’s bomb-making entity that have become public show that in the past, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi was the person who had a copy of the IAEA’s internal documents and the person in charge of responding to IAEA questions about PMD from 2003 onwards, including in 2015 for the “final” IAEA report subsequent to the JCPOA’s signing.
3. IRGC Brigadier Seyed Ali Hosseini Tash
He has been one of the most important figures in the construction of nuclear weapons. IRGC Brigadier Seyed Ali Hossein Tash is currently the head of the Strategic Directorate of the Supreme National Security Council.
During his tenure as director of the Ministry of Defense Research Center, from February 2004 to September 2005, he was the Deputy Minister of Defense. The entity in charge of weaponization, known at the time as the “Center for Readiness and New Defense Technology,” was under his direct supervision.
The Iranian Resistance first exposed the name and functional role of Ali Hosseini Tash in a May 2004 press conference. Following the revelation of the Shian Lavizan site in May 2003 by the Iranian Resistance and the regime’s destruction of this site, the Iranian Resistance announced at a press conference on November 17, 2004 that Deputy Minister of Defense, IRGC Brigidiar General Seyed Ali Hosseini was pursuing nuclear activities with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and a biological weapons project with Nader Maghsoudi. Due to the secrecy of these activities, Ali Hosseini Tash took orders his folows directly from Ali Shamkhani (Minister of Defense). Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a specialist from the Ministry of Defense, was appointed as the director of the Center for Development of Advanced Defense Technology. A year and a half earlier (that is, in May 2003, when the location of Shian’s site was revealed), they started evacuating and clearing the site on orders from Defense Minister Shamkhani.
In Hassan Rouhani’s memoirs, published in 2011, he detailed the history of the nuclear negotiations and mentioned Ali Hosseini Tash’s participation in the meetings of the Supreme Nuclear Committee of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) between 2003 and 2005. On page 141 he wrote: “Regarding the Supreme Nuclear Committee based in the Secretariat and what entities played a key role, I mentioned earlier that a few months before I took over (as the Secretary of the SNSC), this committee was active in the Secretariat and the members of the nuclear committee were selected by the regime’s leaders. Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati (Khamenei’s representative), Dr. Kamal Kharazi (Foreign Minister), Hojjatoleslam (mullah), Ali Younesi (Minister of Intelligence and Security), Admiral Ali Shamkhani (Minister of Defense), Dr. Hosseini Tash (Deputy Minister of Defense), engineer Reza Aghazadeh (Head of the AEOI) and I, Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of the SNSC were members of that committee.”
4. IRGC Brigadier Nasrollah Kalantari:
He was the Deputy Minister of Defense for International Affairs, Communications and Defense Studies for many years. He has played an important role in formulating the regime’s macro-policies in military affairs, has worked in the Ministry of Defense’s research division, and studied nuclear weapons for many years. He was the senior official of the three-member decision-making team in the field of PMD. IRGC Brigadier General Nasrullah Kalantari traveled to China in 2014 as Deputy Defense Minister and to Armenia in 2013. He is currently the Director of the National Security Research Institute at the University of Defense.
5. Seyed Ahmad Mirzaei
He was one of the early experts of the IRGC Research Center in the field of biological weapons and has been involved in this issue since the Iran-Iraq war. He is one of the top experts in the field of WMD. In February 2008, the Iranian Resistance named him as one of the highest ranking officials in the nuclear weapons entity headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi. He always had close relations with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi. In recent years, he has held the position of General Director for Disarmament at the Ministry of Defense. In 2004 and 2005 when IAEA inspectors examined military sites such as Haft-e-Tir and Parchin, Mirzaei followed up on the matter on behalf of the Ministry of Defense.
According to information that the Iranian Resistance revealed on December 1, 2015, a secret committee within the regime was assigned to respond to the IAEA inquiries regarding PMD issues. The composition of the committee that the Iranian resistance revealed then was very telling.
Top officials from IRGC and the Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) comprised the key members of this committee. They were tasked with drafting the preliminary and final answers to IAEA’s PMD inquiries.
Considering their deep knowledge of the military dimensions of the program, the committee members worked to cover up the military dimensions, thus resolving and terminating the PMD dispute by forging suitable scenarios for non-military usage of the program which would seem plausible to the IAEA.
The committee was tasked with finalizing the answers and providing them to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to be passed onto the IAEA by the AEOI’s safeguards affairs department, an agency that is officially accountable to the IAEA inspectors in Iran.
Three main individuals in charge of preparing and drafting the PMD answers to the IAEA were
- Brigadier General Nasrollah Kalantari, then Deputy Defense Minister;
- Seyed Ahmad Mirzaei, then General Director for Disarmament at the Ministry of Defense;
- Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, head of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).
Two officials from the Counter-Intelligence Dept. of the Defense Ministry who cooperate with Nasrollah Kalantari are Hedayati and Moussavi.
Conclusion and observation:
Exactly twenty years ago, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, relying on the information of the network of the People’s Mojahdein Organization inside Iran, in a press conference in Washington DC revealed the secret nuclear sites of Natanz and Arak and dealt an irreparable blow to the clerical regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The revelations of the Iranian Resistance regarding the regime’s nuclear program that had begun in 1991, reached a new climax in 2002 and has continued ever since.
During all this time, the regime has systematically pursued a policy of deception and lying, to hide its project to obtain nuclear weapons. The policy has been directed and controlled directly and in detail by the highest officials of the regime, During all this time, a battle has been raging between the Iranian resistance and the international community, and the Iranian regime regarding clarifying the true nature of the Iranian regime’s nuclear program. But Tehran t no point has been transparent in relation to any site or part of its nuclear project and every time it was after the revelations of the Iranian resistance or other sources and after facing undeniable documents and information, it has admitted some aspects of its project with a great delay, while trying to keep other aspects secret. In many cases, the regime has brazenly and overtly demolished and cleaned up places to eliminate traces.
The clerical regime will not abandon the project to obtain a nuclear bomb. The regime that is more isolated than ever inside Iran, views the bomb as a necessity for its survival. Today, regime officials brazenly talk about their intention to build an atomic bomb. Firmness is required to prevent a fundamentalist and terrorist dictatorship from being equipped with nuclear weapons. To this end, the UN Security Council resolutions must be reinstated, and comprehensive sanctions imposed on the regime. Continuing to negotiate after negotiation allows the regime to buy time to advance its nuclear project. Negotiations with this regime undermine global peace and security.
Instead of imposing sanctions, particularly after the revelation regarding Natanz and Arak, the western countries negotiated with this illegitimate regime and offered it significant concessions. If instead of this totally ill-fated approach, had a decisive policy been adopted at that time, today, the regime would not have made such advances in its nuclear weapons program.
The mullahs are after the bomb to save their regime from inevitable overthrow. The West should refrain from engaging with this regime because it provides the mullahs a chance to build a bomb.