Agence France Presse – Iran’s nuclear weapons program is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard and secretly led by a group of university researchers, an exiled Iranian alleged Monday.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, former spokesman for the The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of an armed resistance exile group, said that 21 professors and researchers of Imam Hossein University in Tehran are involved in the program, and that most of them are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s main military branch.
"Based on the information I have received from my sources inside Iran, the IRGC and the military organs of the Iranian regime are playing a significant and extensive role in furthering the regime’s nuclear weapons program."
"The IRGC has been furthering its military nuclear project research using universities and academic institutions as a cover," he said.
Jafarzadeh served as a spokesman in Washington for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the People’s Mujahideen or MEK. The group has carried out assassinations and bombings against the Iranian government since the early 1980s.
The MEK is designated a terrorist organization by the EU and the US government and its leaders are lobbying to have the designation lifted.
Jafarzadeh said at a news conference that he believed Iran could have a nuclear bomb in "one to three years".
A recent US intelligence review, however, estimated that Iran is five to ten years away from manufacturing nuclear weapons.
The United States and European governments suspect Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy project.
Referred to the UN Security Council, Tehran has denied that it intends to develop atomic weapons and has argued it has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty to pursue uranium enrichment for nuclear energy production.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Monday that "no one can take back" the Islamic republic’s nuclear technology, in a televised address to mark the Iranian New Year.