Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Iran Building Centrifuge Parts at Undisclosed Site, Group Alleges
An Iranian resistance organization on Thursday asserted the nation is building uranium enrichment centrifuge parts at an undisclosed facility outside of Tehran, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 7).
The Taba plant has been open for close to five years and manufactures "aluminum casing, magnets, molecular pumps, composite tubes, centrifuge bases," former National Council of Resistance of Iran spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh told reporters in Washington, referring to details obtained by the Iranian resistance group People's Mujahedeen.
"This is another indication that Tehran, unlike what it says, is not transparent, (does not intend) to be cooperative with the international community, is not pursuing a peaceful nuclear energy program, because otherwise there's no need for any of these things, no need to hide the program since 2002," Jafarzadeh added. The United States and other countries suspect the Persian Gulf state's uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing weapon material, but Tehran has insisted the effort would only generate fuel for civilian applications (Agence France-Presse/Google News, April 7).
Iran was producing machinery parts for the Taba facility in a separate site at Sahfizadeh, located near a city roughly 80 miles from Tehran, the Washington Post quoted Jafarzadeh as saying. "This is a clear indication that there are other secret sites out there, either undergoing construction or perhaps already completed," he said.
The Obama administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency have received information on the matter, Jafarzadeh said. The People's Mujahedeen and National Council of Resistance of Iran previously asserted the existence of multiple undisclosed Iranian nuclear facilities, including the now-confirmed Natanz uranium enrichment complex (Joby Warrick, Washington Post, April 7).
Iran's number of functioning centrifuges and its ability to assemble more of the machines are important factors in assessing the nation's atomic ambitions, AFP quoted Jafarzadeh as saying (Agence France-Presse).
Iran holds enough parts to build for 100,000 centrifuges, the National Council of Resistance of Iran asserted. The Iranian opposition presented no information to support its assertions beyond overhead photographs taken from space, according to the Post (Warrick, Washington Post).
The Middle Eastern nation is unlikely to possess that quantity of centrifuge parts, CNN quoted David Albright, head of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, as saying.
"There is no way Iran has made components for 100,000 centrifuges," he said. "It runs contrary to all indications that Iran has a shortage of raw materials."
The nation has produced between 12,000 and 15,000 centrifuges, and it has declared a goal of building 50,000 of the machines, the expert said.
Albright said he could not assess the validity of the allegation regarding the Taba site. Still, he suggested such claims might be aimed at least in part at achieving the removal of the People's Mujahedeen from a U.S. terrorism blacklist (Pam Benson, CNN, April 7).
Meanwhile, a high-level Israeli official said Turkey was assisting Iran in subverting international economic penalties, Haaretz reported, referring to U.S. diplomatic communications obtained by the transparency organization WikiLeaks.
Ankara was "becoming a platform" for circumventing the punitive measures, a November 2009 cable quotes Israeli Foreign Ministry Political Research Director Nimrod Barkan as telling U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham.
The U.N. Security Council has approved four sets of nuclear sanctions against Iran, which is also subject to economic penalties from the United States and other countries (Yossi Melman, Haaretz, April 8).
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