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Exiled Dissident: Iran Hiding Nukes

Alireza JafarzadehAssociated Press, September 16 – An Iranian exile who opposes the Islamic regime said Friday that Iran’s military is building secret tunnels around the country to conceal materials for a nuclear weapons program.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who helped expose key nuclear facilities in Iran in the past, told a news conference that some of the tunnels house secret "military-nuclear factories" while others are used for storage.

He said his information was based on sources inside the country who have proved to be accurate in the past. One example was the disclosure in 2002 of a secret nuclear facility in Natanz, though U.S. officials have judged some of his past assertions to be inaccurate.

Jafarzadeh’s presentation included detailed maps depicting measurements and other features of the tunnels.

Iranian officials decided to construct tunnels because leaks about the country’s nuclear activities underscored the need for more secure facilities, he said.

Jafarzadeh’s information could not be independently confirmed. U.S. officials offered no immediate comment.

He said the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear activity for the United Nations, should question the Iranians about his findings and insist on "immediate access" to the sites so "Iran doesn’t have time to change things."

The IAEA board will take up the Iran issue Monday at a long-scheduled meeting at its Vienna headquarters. The United States is seeking support from board members to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

The United States says Iran is in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty because of what the U.S. calls a long history of secrecy about nuclear activities.

Iran says its energy program is for generating electricity and says it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is expected to discuss the issue Saturday when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York.