Pattaya Daily News

10 September 2010 :: 12:09:01 pm 37944

Iranian Dissidents Report on Nations Nuclear Ambitions

Iran is developing an underground military installation in the mountainous region west of Tehran, according to U.S. officials and a group of Iranian dissidents. The exact purpose of the development is unknown however; several sources note that a uranium-enrichment facility is ‘plausible.’
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Iran, the 9th of September 2010: The Iranian opposition group, known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), on Thursday told a Washington press conference that an underground facility west of Tehran is nearly completed and may be part of the nation’s fast-tracked nuclear program.

The MEK has been the key exposing source of Iran’s covert nuclear activities over recent years. In 2002, it disclosed the existence of Iran’s nuclear installations in several cities, with subsequent investigations conducted by the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), verifying the claims. Those revelations set off the ongoing international standoff against Tehran and its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the MEK has provided useful information in the past. But they also say some of its information has been inaccurate or exaggerated. Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.

Disputing current claims of a suspected nuclear enrichment facility in western Iran, U.S. officials urged caution. “This facility has been under construction for years, and we’ve known about it for years,” said the U.S. official. “While there’s still some ambiguity about its ultimate purpose—not unusual for something that’s still taking shape—there’s no reason at this point to think it’s nuclear. The Iranians put military stuff in tunnels, too.”

The MEK claims that the facility is approximately 85% complete and is adjoined to a major Iranian military garrison in the region. At present no reports of centrifuges, used to produce nuclear fuel, have surface, but the construction of three halls large enough to house them have been built. The Iranian government is quoted as having spent approximately US$100 million on the sites development.

Given the Iranian governments revelations that it plans to prepare 10 new enrichment sites in the coming years, independent nuclear analysts believe the MEK’s information to be plausible and ‘concerning.’ Only last year Iran acknowledged to the IAEA that it had been building a covert uranium-enrichment facility outside the holy city of Qom.

Satellite imagery of the western Iran site is apparently inadequate to verify the presence of a nuclear site, with experts noting that Iran are currently developing numerous underground facilities around the country, suspected to be for military, not nuclear, purposes.

“It’s conceivable this is a nuclear site, as Tehran has announced it would build new enrichment facilities underground,” said Paul Brannan of Washington’s Institute for Science and International Security, which is focused on combating nuclear proliferation. “But without knowing what’s exactly inside those tunnels, it’s impossible to verify.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has designated the MEK a terrorist organization for assassinating U.S. officials inside Iran during the 1970s. The organisation is also known to have collaborated with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussien in the launching of military strikes against Iran’s theocratic government.

The MEK is currently contesting the U.S. government’s terrorist designation in a Washington district court and says it gave up its armed struggle in 2001.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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