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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Group Claims Iran Speeding Up Nuke Plans
2008-02-21
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - An exiled Iranian opposition group claimed Wednesday that Tehran was speeding up a program to develop nuclear weapons. "The Iran regime entered a new phase in its nuclear project," said Mohammad Mohaddessin of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, which advocates the overthrow of government in Tehran. The Mujahedeen has been designated a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union as well as Iran.

Mohaddessin claimed that Tehran has established a command and research center near a Tehran university. And, he said, Iran is developing a nuclear warhead for use on medium-range missiles at a site on the southeast edge of Tehran. Mohaddessin also claimed that the regime obtained aid from North Korea.

It was not possible to independently verify the NCRI claims. Mohaddessin said his group got the information from "hundreds" of reports and sources from within the Iranian regime, whom he did not name. He said some of the sources are within the nuclear project itself.

An official of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the agency was aware of the allegations. Mohaddessin said he had provided information to the IAEA on Tuesday.

Four years ago, the group disclosed information about two hidden nuclear sites in Iran. But much of the information it has presented since to support claims of a secret weapons program has not been publicly verified.
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Iraq
Thousands of Iranian agents in Iraq
2007-01-27
Iran has thousands of paid operatives working in neighboring Iraq, an Iranian opposition group based in France said Friday, and it released the names of nearly 32,000 people it alleged were involved. The National Council of Resistance's allegations could not be independently verified. And a press officer at the Iranian Embassy in Paris, speaking on condition of anonymity because of embassy policy, called the claims "completely false" and said Tehran supports stability in the region.

The council is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, which advocates the overthrow of Iran's Islamic government. The council has been based in France since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Mohammad Mohaddessin, who heads the council's foreign affairs committee, alleged that thousands of Iraqis are working on Iran's behalf. "The clerical regime, faced with intensifying domestic crisis and isolation inside Iran, views its only chance for survival in the establishment of a proxy regime in Iraq," Mohaddessin said at a news conference in Paris.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
How we duped the West, by Iran's nuclear negotiator
2006-03-05
The man who for two years led Iran's nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic programme. In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.
This isn't going to be any surprise to Rantburg readers, but the fact that he's boasting about it publicly is interesting -- suggests, to me at least, that the Iranians are just about ready to test a nuke. At the very least, there's now very little the IAEA or UN could do to stop them, even if they had a spine, which they don't.
He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot. "From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, 'The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.' The Europeans used to respond, 'We trust them'," he said.
Euros are kinda gullible.
Revelation of Mr Rowhani's remarks comes at an awkward moment for the Iranian government, ahead of a meeting tomorrow of the United Nations' atomic watchdog, which must make a fresh assessment of Iran's banned nuclear operations. The judgment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the final step before Iran's case is passed to the UN Security Council, where sanctions may be considered.
And considered, and considered, and ...
In his address to the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Mr Rowhani appears to have been seeking to rebut criticism from hardliners that he gave too much ground in talks with the European troika. The contents of the speech were published in a regime journal that circulates among the ruling elite. He told his audience: "When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Teheran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan."
In a way you have to admire this -- Iran bluffed with a pair of eights and won the hand.
Iran is trying to win support from Russia, which opposes any UN sanctions, having unsuccessfully tried to persuade European leaders to give them more time. Against this backdrop, Mr Rowhani's surprisingly candid comments on Iran's record of obfuscation and delay are illuminating. He described the regime's quandary in September 2003 when the IAEA had demanded a "complete picture" of its nuclear activities. "The dilemma was if we offered a complete picture, the picture itself could lead us to the UN Security Council," he said. "And not providing a complete picture would also be a violation of the resolution and we could have been referred to the Security Council for not implementing the resolution."

Mr Rowhani disclosed that on at least two occasions the IAEA obtained information on secret nuclear-related experiments from academic papers published by scientists involved in the work.

The Iranians' biggest setback came when Libya secretly negotiated with America and Britain to close down its nuclear operations. Mr Rowhani said that Iran had bought much of its nuclear-related equipment from "the same dealer" - a reference to the network of A Q Khan, the rogue Pakistani atomic scientist. From information supplied by Libya, it became clear that Iran had bought P2 advanced centrifuges.
And even with that the Euro-3 thought they could talk the Iranians into a deal.
In a separate development, the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has obtained a copy of a confidential parliamentary report making clear that Iranian MPs were also kept in the dark on the nuclear programme, which was funded secretly, outside the normal budgetary process.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, the NCRI's foreign affairs chief, told the Sunday Telegraph: "Rowhani's remarks show that the mullahs wanted to deceive the international community from the onset of negotiations with EU3 - and that the mullahs were fully aware that if they were transparent, the regime's nuclear file would be referred to the UN immediately."
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
How we duped the West, by Iran's nuclear negotiator
2006-03-04
The man who for two years led Iran's nuclear negotiations has laid out in unprecedented detail how the regime took advantage of talks with Britain, France and Germany to forge ahead with its secret atomic programme.

In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.

He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.

"From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, 'The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.' The Europeans used to respond, 'We trust them'," he said.

Revelation of Mr Rowhani's remarks comes at an awkward moment for the Iranian government, ahead of a meeting tomorrow of the United Nations' atomic watchdog, which must make a fresh assessment of Iran's banned nuclear operations.

The judgment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the final step before Iran's case is passed to the UN Security Council, where sanctions may be considered.

In his address to the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Mr Rowhani appears to have been seeking to rebut criticism from hardliners that he gave too much ground in talks with the European troika. The contents of the speech were published in a regime journal that circulates among the ruling elite.
Chutzpah.
He told his audience: "When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Teheran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site. There was plenty of work to be done to complete the site and finish the work there. In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan."

America and its European allies believe that Iran is clandestinely developing an atomic bomb but Teheran insists it is merely seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Iran's negotiating team engaged in a last-ditch attempt last week to head off Security Council involvement. In January the regime removed IAEA seals on sensitive nuclear equipment and last month it resumed banned uranium enrichment.

Iran is trying to win support from Russia, which opposes any UN sanctions, having unsuccessfully tried to persuade European leaders to give them more time. Against this backdrop, Mr Rowhani's surprisingly candid comments on Iran's record of obfuscation and delay are illuminating.

He described the regime's quandary in September 2003 when the IAEA had demanded a "complete picture" of its nuclear activities. "The dilemma was if we offered a complete picture, the picture itself could lead us to the UN Security Council," he said. "And not providing a complete picture would also be a violation of the resolution and we could have been referred to the Security Council for not implementing the resolution."

Mr Rowhani disclosed that on at least two occasions the IAEA obtained information on secret nuclear-related experiments from academic papers published by scientists involved in the work.

The Iranians' biggest setback came when Libya secretly negotiated with America and Britain to close down its nuclear operations. Mr Rowhani said that Iran had bought much of its nuclear-related equipment from "the same dealer" - a reference to the network of A Q Khan, the rogue Pakistani atomic scientist. From information supplied by Libya, it became clear that Iran had bought P2 advanced centrifuges.

In a separate development, the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has obtained a copy of a confidential parliamentary report making clear that Iranian MPs were also kept in the dark on the nuclear programme, which was funded secretly, outside the normal budgetary process.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, the NCRI's foreign affairs chief, told the Sunday Telegraph: "Rowhani's remarks show that the mullahs wanted to deceive the international community from the onset of negotiations with EU3 - and that the mullahs were fully aware that if they were transparent, the regime's nuclear file would be referred to the UN immediately."
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Iranian military takes control of nuke program
2005-10-06
Hat tip to Orrin Judd.
Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has placed the military firmly in control of his nation's nuclear program, undercutting his government's claim that the program is intended for civilian use, according to a leading opposition group.

Leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) now dominate Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the country's top foreign policy-making body under the constitution. Mr. Ahmadinejad, a little-known former mayor of Tehran before his surprise election in July, is a former IRGC commander, as is new council Secretary-General Ali Larijani, who has taken the lead in negotiations about Iran's nuclear programs.
This just makes it official and removes the pretense.
Revolutionary Guard commanders also have taken charge of the council's internal security, strategy and political posts, according to a report issued by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran. A Revolutionary Guard veteran even serves as the council's press spokesman. "The military under the new president is firmly in control of the nuclear program and the nuclear negotiations with the United Nations and the West," said Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the NCRI's foreign affairs committee, in a telephone interview yesterday.

The personnel changes "make it less and less credible that Iran is pursuing nuclear programs for peaceful uses," he said.
But it makes it much easier politically for either Bush or Sharon to nail the Iranians, since the targets are now specifically military.
The report, which also tracks Iran's extensive nuclear infrastructure and technical programs, charges that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei has turned to IRGC personnel in order to "eliminate all bureaucratic and political obstacles to obtaining nuclear weapons."

The NCRI is the political arm of the People's Mujahadeen, a secular Iranian bloc that broke violently with the Islamic leaders of the revolution shortly after the ouster of the Shah. Branded a terrorist group by U.S. and European governments, it also has proven to be the single best intelligence source on Iran's clandestine nuclear programs, exposing in recent years massive research and testing sites inside Iran unknown to U.N. and Western monitors.

But other analysts also have reported a wave of senior appointments for Iran's military, especially from within the more ideological forces under the direct control of the ruling Islamic clerics. Houchang Hassan-Yari, a political scientist at the Royal Military College of Canada, noted in a recent analysis that current and former members of the IRGC now can be found throughout Iran's political and administrative bureaucracy, from lawmakers in parliament to mayors, university officials and even managers of some of Iran's biggest business concerns. The corps is "on the verge of being transformed from a junior player in the country's military defense to a key factor in the country's military and security doctrine -- a rise that could come at the [traditional] army's expense," he noted.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Iranian Moolahs Toss Nuke Keys Over to Army (IRGC)
2005-10-05
Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has placed the military firmly in control of his nation's nuclear program, undercutting his government's claim that the program is intended for civilian use, according to a leading opposition group.

Leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the force created specifically to defend the 1979 Islamic revolution, now dominate Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the country's top foreign policy-making body under the constitution.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, a little-known former mayor of Tehran before his surprise election in July, is a former IRGC commander, as is new council Secretary-General Ali Larijani, who has taken the lead in negotiations about Iran's nuclear programs.

Revolutionary Guard commanders also have taken charge of the council's internal security, strategy and political posts, according to a report issued by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran. A Revolutionary Guard veteran even serves as the council's press spokesman.

"The military under the new president is firmly in control of the nuclear program and the nuclear negotiations with the United Nations and the West," said Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the NCRI's foreign affairs committee, in a telephone interview yesterday.
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Iraq-Jordan
Iran 'supplies infra-red bombs' that kill British troops in Iraq
2005-08-20
British soldiers in Iraq are being killed by advanced "infra-red" bombs supplied by Iran that defeat jamming equipment, according to military intelligence officials.

The "passive infra-red" devices, whose use in Iraq is revealed for the first time by The Sunday Telegraph, are detonated when the beam is broken, as when an intruder triggers a burglar alarm. They were used by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group against Israel in Lebanon from 1995.

Just as the "shaped bombs" are supplied by Hezbollah

A radio signal is used to arm the bomb as a target vehicle approaches. The next object to break the infra-red beam - the target vehicle - detonates the device.

Coalition officials see the disturbing development as a key part of an aggressive new campaign by Teheran to drive coalition forces out of Iraq so that an Islamic theocracy can be established.

Now that we have made multiple discoveries, the real question is how will we respond to it.

American and British intelligence officials believe that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is training, supplying and funding part of Iraq's insurgent Shia network and that its activities have been stepped up since the spring.

Links between Shia and Sunni Muslim groups, usually via trading by criminal arms dealers, means that expertise quickly spreads across Iraq.

"These guys have picked up in two years what it took the IRA a quarter-century to learn," said an Army bomb disposal officer in Iraq.

Four British soldiers are believed to have been killed by infra-red devices made in the town of Majar-al-Kabir. The bombmaker, in his early forties, was one of the agitators behind the mob killing of six Red Caps there in June, 2003. The man, whose name is known by this newspaper but has not been published for security reasons, has connections to Iran, and has reportedly been seen with agents from Teheran. His arrest has been ordered, and two of his lieutenants were detained in June.

After the arrests, however, three soldiers from the Staffordshire Regiment were killed when their armoured Land Rover was blown up by a roadside bomb in al-Amara, last month as they were lured into a trap.

Second Lt Richard Shearer, Pte Leon Spicer and Pte Phillip Hewett died instantly as they investigated gunfire.

Guardsman Anthony Wakefield of the Coldstream Guards died from wounds inflicted by a similar infra-red device in al-Amara in May. As the "top cover" gunner, his head and shoulders were exposed in an armoured Land Rover. The bomb was set at a precise height and directed towards the road so it would hit a soldier in this position.

"This was something completely new," said one military intelligence officer. "Before, they used to keep bashing away with the same crude devices again and again. The Iranian influence has shown itself in the sophistication of their bombs and a new ability to innovate."

British intelligence reports indicate that complete infra-red devices, carefully machined in military workshops, are being delivered to Shia militants in Iraq.

British officials said Iran had also been providing Shia insurgents with "shaped charges", which use a directional explosive force to fire a metal projectile that penetrates heavy armour.

Iran's interference threatens to inflame sectarian tensions in Iraq and hasten what coalition officials dread most - civil war between the Shias and the Sunni minority.

Iran's recent elections, in which the hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president gave fresh impetus to its "meddling" in Iraq, according to Mohammad Mohaddessin, an Iranian opposition leader in exile in Paris.

"The regime in Teheran is very concerned about a democracy being created right next to Iran," he said. "They also believe that the more chaos there is in Iraq, the less attention will be paid by America and Britain to Iran's nuclear ambitions."

Iranian policy had already been boosted by Iraq's elections. They returned a Shia-dominated government led by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who lived in exile in Iran, rather than the secular Iyad Allawi, the candidate preferred by Washington.

Before the introduction of infra-red devices, bombs in Iraq were usually set off by an electronic remote control signal found in a mobile telephone, car locking device, garage door opener or even a child's toy.

They could be blocked by electronic countermeasures developed by the Army in Northern Ireland.

These are powerless, however, against infra-red beams, which can be modified from burglar alarm systems. Military commanders have briefed soldiers to be more cautious and avoid rushing into potential attacks. Patrol routes are varied so that no pattern is set.

Infra-red beams have been used by the IRA, and by the Red Army Faction to kill Alfred Herrhausen, the chairman of the Deutsche Bank, in 1989.

"There has always been cross fertilisation of terrorist technology across the terror diaspora," said a former Army bomb disposal officer. "Infra-red is virtually impossible to jam whereas radio control and cell phone systems are jammable."

Maj Gen Ali Hamadi, who commands Iraq's border defence force, was wounded in the stomach and accused American troops of opening fire on his vehicle in Baghdad, local police reported. A US military official denied that any of their soldiers had been in the area at the time. Iraqis often accuse US troops of opening fire on motorists, sometimes killing them.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Report: Iran budgeted $2.5 billion for nuke warheads
2005-04-04
Iran allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads in 2005, according to a report cited by an opposition official.
The Iranian opposition said the Islamic leadership in Teheran approved a project to procure nuclear warheads meant to be deployed on Shihab-class intermediate-range missiles produced by Iran. The opposition said that nearly a year ago Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei ordered Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani to procure the warheads, Middle East Newsline reported.
"In mid-2004, Khamenei allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads by their own means [production] or buy them abroad," National Council of Resistance of Iran foreign affairs committee chairman Mohammad Mohaddessin told a news conference in Paris on Thursday.
Mohaddessin did not say whether the money has already been spent, but stressed that Teheran wanted to acquire the warheads in 2005. He said he received this report hours earlier and had no further information on the project.
Last month, Ukraine acknowledged that 12 Soviet-origin cruise missiles meant to deliver nuclear weapons were sold to Iran in 2001. The Kiev government said the X-55 missiles were sold by criminal elements and delivered to Iran without full systems and instructions.
In 2002, the National Council of Resistance of Iran disclosed the existence of two major nuclear facilities — Arak and Natanz — concealed from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Since then, the opposition group reported on other secret nuclear facilities later confirmed by the IAEA.
At the news conference, Mohaddessin disclosed an Iranian project to develop a nuclear reactor at Arak, about 240 kilometers south of Teheran. He said the reactor would be able to produce 10 kilograms of plutonium, sufficient for an atomic bomb, by 2007.
"The regime told the International Atomic Energy Agency the reactor would be operational in 2014," Mohaddessin said. "But in reality, they want to start it in 2006 or 2007."
Commercial satellite images released by a U.S. institute in February pointed to the near completion of a heavy water plant at Arak. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said the plant would contain a nuclear reactor that could eventually produce plutonium for one atomic bomb per year.
Later, institute president David Albright said the satellite images indicate that Iran has been testing the Arak plant. He said the images showed steam coming out of the facility.
On Thursday, the institute released a report that asserted that Iran has established a facility to manufacture gas centrifuges, required for uranium enrichment. The report said the facility, termed Kalaye Electric, was established in 1995 and inspected by the IAEA in 2003.
The Iranian opposition said Teheran's nuclear program has been kept secret from much of the government and parliament. Mohaddessin quoted from what he termed a classified report by parliament in February 2004 that complained of a lack of government information on Arak as well as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
"The legislative branch does not clearly know where the budget for these two projects is coming from," the parliamentary report was quoted as saying. "It neither knows how the project was started and how it was put into place."
In Washington, a leading U.S. expert said Iran appears to be developing what he termed "latent" nuclear weapons capability. The expert said Iran has not yet assembled complete bombs or openly violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"They absolutely want to stay within the existing rules of the NPT and regime and they will do everything they can to play by the rules," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace vice president George Perkovich said. "The rules allow you — and in their argument give you the right, which I dispute — to acquire a capability to enrich uranium or to separate plutonium."
Perkovich said Iran has sought to follow the Japanese model. He said Japan maintains large stockpiles of plutonium without international recrimination.
"What we have learned is that some technologies, in particular uranium enrichment and plutonium separation technology, are just too inherently dual use, they have too many inherent weapons applications to be allowed to proliferate to new countries," Perkovich said.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Exiles: Iran Seeks to Obtain Nuclear Warheads
2005-03-31
PARIS (Reuters) - Iran allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads last year, an exiled opposition group said Thursday, without saying whether Iran had secured any of the warheads. The group, which has given accurate information in the past on some of Iran's nuclear facilities, also said Iran was speeding up work on a reactor south of Tehran which could produce enough plutonium for an atomic bomb by 2007. Iran says its nuclear program will be used only to generate electricity. But Washington and European countries fear Iran could use its nuclear plants to produce bombs.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exile group that wants to oust Iran's clerical rulers, said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had told the defense minister to take steps to obtain nuclear warheads.
"In mid-2004, Khamenei allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads," Mohammad Mohaddessin of the NCRI told a news conference in Paris. Mohaddessin said he received the news Thursday morning and had no further information on the project. He did not say whether or how the money had been spent.
The NCRI said last year that Iran obtained a nuclear bomb design from a Pakistani scientist who has acknowledged selling nuclear secrets abroad. The group has also said Iran was working on large-range missiles capable of hitting European cities. The NCRI is a coalition of exiled opposition groups, which is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Mohaddessin said the Iranian regime was speeding up work on a reactor in Arak, 150 miles south of Tehran, which could produce enough plutonium for one atomic bomb per year. "The regime told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the reactor would be operational in 2014, but in reality, they want to start it in 2006 or 2007," he said.
A U.S. think-tank said earlier this month that new satellite images showed that a heavy water plant at Arak, intended to supply the research reactor, was nearly complete. Heavy-water reactors can be used to produce significant amounts of bomb-grade plutonium, which can then be extracted from the spent fuel through reprocessing. The NCRI revealed the Arak heavy-water production plant, along with the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, in August 2002, describing it as part of a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran later declared both sites to the IAEA.
According to Mohaddessin, Iran's parliament said in a confidential report in February 2004 that the government had not informed it sufficiently about the two sites. "The legislative branch does not clearly know where the budget for these two projects is coming from," Mohaddessin quoted the report by a parliamentary committee as saying. "It neither knows how the project was started and how it was put into place," the report said, according to the NCRI.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Iran Tests Nuclear Trigger Mechanism - Opposition
2005-02-03
PARIS (Reuters) - Iran has conducted successful experiments on a crucial triggering mechanism for a nuclear weapon, an exiled opposition group said on Thursday. President Bush on Wednesday renewed his accusation that Iran was seeking to develop atomic weapons and called it the "world's primary state sponsor of terror." Tehran dismisses the accusations and says its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which wants to oust Iran's clerical rulers and has given accurate information on its nuclear sites in the past, said Iran was close to producing the 'neutron initiators' that spark the chain reaction in a bomb.
"Tehran has already succeeded in using beryllium in conjunction with polonium-210 for large scale laboratory testing purposes, and it is getting very close to the point of industrial production," Mohammad Mohaddessin of the NCRI told a news conference in Paris.
Diplomats have already said there is evidence that Iran has bought small quantities of beryllium and tried to buy much more, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) is examining this as part of a two-year investigation of Tehran's nuclear program. Beryllium also has many innocent uses, but Mohaddessin said Iran had not only secured significant quantities but also tried to conceal its purchases from the IAEA.
"Tehran currently has enough beryllium to produce initiators for a dozen nuclear bombs," he said. He said the laboratory tests had been conducted at the Lavizan II site close to Tehran by experts from the Malek-Ashtar Industrial university, which is run by the Defense Ministry.
Germany, France and Britain, acting for the European Union, have been urging Iran to permanently scrap the uranium enrichment that could give it the potential to make nuclear explosives in return for political and economic incentives. Washington takes a harder line and wants Iran to be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
The NCRI is a coalition of exiled opposition groups. The State Department lists it and its armed wing, the People's Mujahideen, as terrorist organizations.
Pity, they produce damm good intel, I'll wager the nuclear spies Iran arrested last year were members of NCRI.
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Syria-Lebanon-Iran
Secret Iranian nuclear effort disclosed
2005-01-07
The Iranian opposition group that exposed the nation's covert nuclear weapons program two years ago said yesterday that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the effort to continue in secret. The opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), also disclosed the existence of what it said is a new uranium enrichment facility in central Iran that is nearing completion.
Speaking to reporters in Paris yesterday, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the NCRI's Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Iranian regime is "playing a double game" with Europe. "Khamenei has ordered his regime to not only continue the enrichment of uranium, but to buy time and accelerate the project in order to make the bomb as quickly as possible," Mr. Mohaddessin said. "Khamenei has ordered his diplomats and his negotiators to prolong the negotiations as much as possible, possibly by between eight and 12 months, which is exactly the time needed to complete the bomb," he said.
The Bush administration and European powers have branded the NCRI a terrorist group, mainly because its military wing was sheltered by Saddam Hussein at bases in Iraq, from which it launched attacks in Iran. The group, however, gained credibility in August 2002 by exposing another secret uranium enrichment facility being built underground in Natanz, 150 miles south of Tehran, and a heavy water production facility at Arak, about 120 miles southwest of Tehran.
That exposure triggered the current nuclear standoff with Iran, by forcing the Islamist regime to open these sites to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Talks today between European negotiators and Iran represent a "last-chance" at getting the Tehran regime to stop enriching uranium and avoid the threat of U.N. sanctions. In exchange, the Europeans are offering technical assistance — such as helping Iran build a light-water power reactor and providing a supply of reactor fuel — and trade incentives.
Mr. Mohaddessin said that while the regime was negotiating with Europe, it was also putting the finishing touches on a major site that would be needed to produce large quantities of enriched uranium. The site, located in Isfahan in central Iran, would convert uranium oxide, called "yellowcake," into uranium hexafluoride gas, a stage prior to enrichment.
He said a test center for centrifuges had been constructed with "utmost discretion" near the site, and that between 120 and 180 centrifuges will be installed there. Uranium hexafluoride is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.
Mr. Mohaddessin credited a network of sources inside Iran for his information.
That would include the spies that Iran arrested. Hope he has more of them.
A spokesman at the British Foreign Office, reached by telephone, declined to comment on Mr. Mohaddessin's charges but said there was "nothing to lose" by continuing to negotiate.
"If we do get compliance, that's all well and good, and if we don't, there's more chance of a consensus at the next [IAEA] board meeting because all options would have been looked at," he said.
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Iraq
Ceasefire With MKO
2003-04-17
U.S. and British forces are trying to organize a ceasefire with the Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen Iranian [Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization - MKO] group, Brooks. "There's work that's ongoing right now to secure some sort of agreement that will lead to a ceasefire and capitulation," Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks told reporters. General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday Anglo-American warplanes had bombed Mujahedeen camps in Iraq and that some fighters were expected to surrender soon. He noted it was too soon to tell what effect the strikes would have on U.S. relations with Iran, which President George W. Bush last year labeled part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. Iran, the United States and the European Union all consider the People's Mujahedeen a terrorist organization.
That makes it pretty much unanimous, doesn't it?
An AFP correspondent who visited the Mujahedeen's vast camp Wednesday at Falluja, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Baghdad, found that its fighters had deserted the isolated compound.
Gone... Departed... Not there no mo'...
A senior Mujahadeen official, Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of the Iranian Resistance, confirmed the talks with the U.S. forces, though he did not refer to a surrender. "We are trying to reach a mutually acceptable agreement and understanding with them," he told AFP Thursday.
Why don't you turn out the lights and go home?
He said he could not say where the negotiations were taking place or when they might conclude, but added, "Our commanders are talking to their commanders."
"That's assuming we can find any of our commanders, and they still have somebody left to command..."
Calling the bombing of Mujahadeen bases "astounding and regrettable," he said the Mujahadeen had been told by intermediaries before the war that the United States did not consider them targets. Referring to Brooks' use of the term "ceasefire," he said at no time had the Mukahadeen fired on Anglo-American forces, and they would continue to refrain from confrontation.
"Hell, no! Everybody'd run by the time they got there!"
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