Washington---Major new evidence collected by the Iranian opposition of a secret nuclear weapons program in Iran, as well as a summary of all past allegations including many that have not been pursued by international inspectors, were presented today at a press conference co-hosted by the Nuclear Control Institute and the Iran Policy Committee.
The new information includes maps and, for the first time, a photograph, of tunnels that allegedly have been dug at a military base to move secret elements of Irans nuclear program underground. It was presented in great detail by Alireza Jafarzadeh, who until 2003 was the Washington spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). In 2002 and 2003, Jafarzadeh revealed the existence of Irans secret uranium enrichment and heavy water production plants and triggered the International Atomic Energy Agencys (IAEA) investigation that now threatens to result in Iran being brought before the UN Security Council.
This startling evidence, complete with maps and a photograph of tunnels for secret nuclear facilities, should be investigated without delay by the IAEA, unlike much information from the Iranian opposition that has either been ignored or not aggressively pursued by international inspectors, said Paul Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute. Iran is barred by the safeguards terms of the nonproliferation treaty from having uninspected facilities where fissile material can be produced, used or stored. Unfortunately, the military base where the tunneling is allegedly taking place is Parchin, where the IAEA has been allowed to enter only once on a highly restricted basis and agency requests for additional inspections have been rebuffed by Iran.
Prof. Raymond Tanter, co-chair of the Iran Policy Committee, said: This latest evidence strongly suggests that negotiations are not slowing down Tehrans accelerating march toward nuclear weapons status. There is a race between two clocks, a diplomatic and a nuclear timepiece. Tehrans ultimate objective is to break out from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and achieve the bomb. Since military strikes seem infeasible, there is a need for the international community to place a new clock on the table, regime change in Tehran.
The Nuclear Control Institute and the Iran Policy Committee asked Jafarzadeh to prepare a complete record of all allegations made by the Iranian opposition about Iran's secret nuclear program.
Jafarzadeh, in presenting his analysis of more than 20 allegations, pointed out that about half of them had not been investigated by the IAEA or the IAEA's attempts to investigate were rebuffed by Iran. Leventhal and Tanter said they have forwarded the analysis to the IAEA with a request to ElBaradei that he circulate it to the members of the Board of Governors at the outset of their next meeting, which begins on Monday, September 19, and that he report to the Board on the status of the unresolved allegations of secret nuclear activities in Iran.
At the press conference, Leventhal noted that in ElBaradei's most recent confidential report to the IAEA board, he made clear that he is losing patience with a longstanding pattern of Iranian concealment and deception. Although his language is polite, his message is blunt when he says, Irans full transparency is indispensable and overdue. But Leventhal noted that the IAEA board has not utilized its statutory authority to require anyplace-anytime inspections; nor has it imposed any sanctions on Iran.
Referral of Iran to the Security Council is long overdue and well justified, Leventhal said, citing a recent call by IAEAs former safeguards chief, Pierre Goldschmidt, for Security Council action. Goldschmidt has said, The Iranians are exploiting all the loopholes in the international agreements. As to why they are doing this you can draw your own conclusions. As it stands, the investigating authority of the agency is too limited with regard to Iran.
Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, discussed regional and global security threats posed by a nuclear Iran. Clawson stated that: Stopping Iran short of achieving nuclear status is a vital U.S. interest for several reasons. Irans hardliners have a history of aggression. They have worsened territorial and natural resource disputes with Arab states of the Gulf. They have meddled in Iraq, including close ties to some of the most extreme elements there. They are unrelentingly hostile to the United States, and they have attacked U.S. forces repeatedly. They bombed the barracks of U.S. Marines sent to Beirut to protect Lebanese Muslims. They bombed Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia to stop the United States from protecting Saudi Arabia against the Iraqis. They regularly threaten to wipe off the map a fellow U.N. member and U.S. ally, Israel. They allowed Al Qaeda members on their soil to coordinate the terror attacks in Riyadh. Irans brinkmanship on the nuclear issue only worsens the prospects for Iranian behavior on all these fronts. Irans acquisition of a nuclear weapons capabilityshould it come to passwill almost certainly make a problematic situation even more difficult.
Said Tanter: Time is on Iran's side. The world cannot wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt of an Iranian bomb. The risks of delay are too high. The international community should be prepared to act on recent discoveries of evidence of weapons-related nuclear activities. Discoveries over the past two years, along with the revelations by Iranian opposition groups that Iran is developing a nuclear trigger, constitute clear and present danger of illicit activities that, unless halted, may lead to actual bomb-making by Iran.