In a press conference in Washington, DC on Friday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed that the “nerve center” of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons project, responsible for designing a nuclear bomb, has been continuing its work.
The engineering unit for the regime’s nuclear weapons program is called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research known by its Persian acronym SPND.
The information was gathered by the network of the main Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, through assets within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Defense Ministry, and SPND, and so on. It shows that following the establishment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, not only has the unit remained in place and active, it is now clear that in some fields its activities have even expanded.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, also known as Dr. Hassan Mohseni, is the key individual in the regime’s nuclear weapons program. He is a veteran IRGC brigadier general and continues to head SPND.
According to the NCRI, the organization is comprised of 7 subdivisions, each of which is carrying out a certain portion of nuclear weapons research.
The new information showed that all of SPND’s subdivisions continue their work on the same scale as prior to the 2015 nuclear deal.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran first revealed the existence of SPND in July 2011 in Washington, DC. Three years later, SPND was placed in the sanctions list by the U.S. Department of State on August 29, 2014.
According to Alireza Jafarzadeh, the Deputy Director of the US Representative office of the NCRI, a new location tied to the nuclear weapons project has been exposed, which had been kept a secret from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) up to this point.
Jafarzadeh said two of the seven subdivisions of SPND play the most significant roles: The first, the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ), works on the trigger and high-impact and non-conventional explosions. The second, Fakhar Moqaddam Group, works on uranium enrichment and enriched uranium.
According to Jafarzadeh, The director of METFAZ is currently an engineer named Mohammad Ferdowsi, who has been working at the Defense Ministry since 1986 and is a high-explosive expert. At the same time, he is the chairman of the board of directors of the High-Explosive Society of Malek Ashtar University (affiliated with the Defense Ministry).
In September 2009, the NCRI revealed the existence of METFAZ as well as the location of its tests in the Khojir military district in eastern Tehran. The site is located in the Khojir military road leading to the Parchin military industrial site and is adjacent to Sanjarian Village. However, the most recent investigation reveals that METFAZ conducts its main activities in another location, which has thus far remained a secret.
According to Jafarzadeh, the new intelligence by the MEK reveals the existence of a new location, which is identified in SPND’s internal communications with the codename “Research Academy”, or simply “Research”. This location has become the main center for METFAZ’s tests and other activities.
Following the JCPOA, in order to avoid blowing the cover on METFAZ’s activities, a large portion of the activities conducted at METFAZ in Sanjarian, as well as the personnel working at the site, were transferred to the Research Academy situated within Parchin, which is a large military district about 30 miles southeast of Tehran, controlled by the Defense Ministry.
“In order to avoid the leaking of intelligence and information on the Research Academy, the location is under heavy surveillance and control by the IRGC Intelligence’s protection service,” Jafarzadeh said.
Ms. Soona Samsami, the U.S. Representative of the NCRI, commented on the political implications of the new information: “Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has stated time and again, including on November 24, 2013 immediately following the initial agreement of P5+1 with the clerical regime, that if the world powers had acted steadfastly, without economic and political considerations, they could have totally contained the regime’s bomb-making apparatus in that round of negotiations. She had warned: Total implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular total stop of enrichment, accepting the Additional Protocol, and free and unhindered access of the IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities, are necessary in order for the regime to give up its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.”
The NCRI representative made the following demands:
“In light of the above and in order to prevent the world from dealing with a nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime in Iran, the following steps are indispensable:
1. As several U.N. Security Council resolutions stated, Iran’s uranium enrichment program needs to be ended completely; the nuclear enrichment program has only one objective and that is to obtain the fissile material needed for the Bomb.
2. The weaponization program must be totally dismantled. There is no reason to maintain SPND, and all its subordinate organizations, including METFAZ. They have no peaceful, energy use whatsoever and, their only function is to facilitate the development of the nuclear bomb.
3. Exerting airtight control over all the aspects of the regime’s nuclear program and permanent, unhindered and immediate access to all sites, above-mentioned locations, and access to, and interviews with, the key nuclear experts, including Mohasen Fakhrizadeh and his subordinates must be conducted immediately.
4. All the outstanding questions regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of the nuclear program need to be followed up to expose the full scope of the nuclear weapons program of Iran.”