24 Feb 2015 03:38 PM
By Sean Piccoli
Iran is enriching weapons-grade uranium in a secret underground facility outside of Tehran that has remained hidden for a decade from U.N. weapons inspectors and U.S. negotiators seeking to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb, says an Iranian exile group with a proven track record of uncovering the regime’s repeated nuclear violations.
If weapons inspectors are not given immediate access to the site, called Lavizan-3, the countries negotiating with Iran today should walk away from the table, Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the U.S. Representative Office of The National Council of Resistance of Iran, told “MidPoint” host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Tuesday.
“We need for the IAEA to inspect this site,” said Jafarzadeh, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose investigators have verified previous revelations from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, including a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz and a heavy water nuclear facility in Arak, both uncovered in 2002.
The Resistance Council held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday announcing that the group’s sources within Iran have learned of the underground facility operating in a Tehran suburb.
The allegation followed Monday’s disclosure of a potential breakthrough in negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries pushing to end the Tehran regime’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
It’s unclear what effect the existence of another secret testing facility would have on any deal, but Jafarzadeh said that no accord should be signed and Iran should remain under global economic sanctions until after the alleged site is inspected.
Jafarzadeh, who has repeatedly insisted that Iran is not to be trusted in negotiations, gave Berliner a detailed description of the newly uncovered facility and its capabilities.
Constructed, beginning in 2004, beneath an ID card factory owned by Iran’s intelligence service, the Lavizan-3 center is comprised of four underground “hallways” measuring 10 by 40 meters that are accessed by elevators and then a tunnel.
“And and in those hallways, deep underground about 50 meters down, Tehran has been doing research, development and uranium enrichment using highly advanced centrifuge machines, including IR-2m, IR-3 and IR-4,” said Jafarzadeh.
“These are the machines that are much faster than what the regime already has,” he said.
“Most of the centrifuge machines in Natanz, for instance, about 18,000 of them are all IR-1, and IR-2 that they’re working on [at Lavizan-3] is about at least five times faster.
“That gives a significant leap to the Iranian regime’s capability,” said Jafarzadeh. “They’re doing it secretly, so it’s away from the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency and ironically as the P5+1 … are negotiating supposedly on the number of centrifuges that Iran should not have.”
The bottom line, said Jafarzadeh, is that Iran is once again in violation of the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as various U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran and the official Joint Plan of Action that Iran supposedly agreed to in November.
“But also, it clearly shows that the talks are really meaningless unless we get to the bottom of this,” he said. “How can you talk with the other party when the other party constantly cheats and lies to you, and you know that they’re lying?”
Jafarzadeh also commented on a report that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, flatly contradicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the imminence of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
While Netanyahu told world leaders at the United Nations in 2012 that Iran was within a year of having the bomb, Israeli intelligence had concluded that Iran’s nuclear weapons program wasn’t close to reaching its goal, according to top-secret cables reviewed by The Guardian.
Jafarzadeh said to look at the larger picture laid out by his group’s multiple revelations.
“We were the ones who exposed and blew the whistle on the nuclear program of Iran when we exposed the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz in 2002 [and] the heavy water facility in Arak, again in 2002, and a whole host of other nuclear sites,” he said. “Most recently just today, we had another revelation.
“If you look at the whole trend of the Iranian regime over the years, not just today or yesterday, but over two decades, you can see that Iran has been consistently moving forward with the military program, focused on the nuclear weapons program of Iran,” he said, “And they have all the necessary components that they’re working on in terms of uranium enrichment, getting plutonium and in terms of weaponization.
“They’re doing a lot of these activities secretly,” he added.
The State Department has identified “four pathways” Iran is taking toward a nuclear weapon that negotiations are intended to block: a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz; another in Fordo; the heavy water facility at Arak for making plutonium; and any as-yet-undiscovered “covert” measures.
“The fourth pathway is the covert program,” said Jafarzadeh, “and the covert side is the most serious part of it.”
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