Iranian opposition group claims Tehran accelerated alleged nuclear weapons program
AP, February 20, 2008
Photo by Associated Press: Alireza Jafarzadeh, right, head of the Washington-based think tank, Strategic Policy Consulting Inc., and Mohammad Mohaddessin, left, Chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, address the media during a press conference Brussels, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008. The Iranian opposition movement alleged Wednesday that they had concrete evidence of the existence of Iran's secret nuclear weapons program command headquarters.
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - An
exiled Iranian opposition group on Wednesday claimed that
Tehran has accelerated its alleged nuclear weapons program,
including the production of nuclear warheads.
"The Iran regime entered a new phase in its nuclear project," said Mohammad Mohaddessin, a representative of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.
He claimed that, for the first time, Tehran had established a command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and that southeast of the capital it was also setting up a center to produce warheads.
Iran has steadfastly denied it is working to obtain a nuclear bomb, arguing that its nuclear program is purely civilian. In December, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate said that Iran halted a nuclear weapons development program in 2003 because of international pressure.
Mohaddessin told a news conference that Iran had closed down one center only to open another later with the same purpose. He called the U.S. report "not accurate."
He said he had provided the latest information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday and urged them to investigate more sites in Iran and interview more scientists.
"Lack of firmness by the international community has offered the regime the opportunity to get closer to obtaining the nuclear bomb," he said.
It was not possible to independently verify the NCRI claims, which Mohaddessin said came from sources within Iran, including some among staff at covert nuclear plants.
Four years ago, the group disclosed information about two hidden nuclear sites that helped uncover nearly two decades of covert Iranian atomic activity. But much of the information it has presented since then to back up claims that Iran has a secret weapons program has not been publicly verified.
The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, an opposition group that advocates the overthrow of government in Tehran. The Mujahedeen have been designated a terrorist group by Iran and by both the United States and the European Union.
Tehran has insisted that such a group cannot provide correct information, leading the NCRI to call for a change in policy.
"Maintaining the main opposition on the terrorist list is considered by the regime as an international license to acquire nuclear weapons," Mohaddessin said.
In a statement, Mohaddessin also claimed that Iran's regime obtained aid from North Korea to help develop a warhead.