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Group claims discovery of another Iranian nuclear facility
An Iranian dissident group that previously has revealed some of Iran's nuclear facilities claimed Thursday that it had uncovered another secret installation northwest of Tehran.
The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) announced at a press conference that Iran's the "TABA complex" has been manufacturing centrifuge parts for the country's nuclear program since 2006.
PMOI member Alireza Jafarzadeh said the centrifuge parts include casings, magnets, molecular pumps, composite tubes, bellows and centrifuge bases, adding that the complex has produced more than 100,000 parts since 2006.
"Our sources say that in addition to manufacturing centrifuge parts, extensive research was being conducted by the Defense Ministry at that location," he said, alleging that Iran's Defense Ministry "directly supervises operations at the site."
The PMOI, also known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), is an exiled Iranian opposition group that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic republic's regime. It helped expose Irans' Natanz and Arak nuclear sites in 2002.
The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported in February that Iran had "not responded to Agency requests for access to additional locations related, inter alia, to the manfufacturing of centrifuges."
Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Tehran has not ratified the additional protocol that would permit snap inspections of all nuclear sites. It is widely suspected that Iran has several secret nuclear sites.
Mr. Jafarzadeh said the PMOI has shared its intelligence on the TABA complex with the U.S. government and the IAEA.
Experts on Iran's nuclear program told The Washington Times that the claim is worth investigating but that the PMOI's intelligence-gathering record has raised red flags.
"The frustrating thing about them is that sometimes their intelligence is quite wrong, but sometimes it's quite right," said Patrick Clawson, director of the Iran Security Initative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "I would say the majority of their tips have been worthwhile."
Former IAEA weapons inspector David Albright said the PMOI's claim of more than 100,000 centrifuge parts is hard to believe in view of the success that international sanctions have had in denying Iran requisite materials.
The PMOI has a tendency for overstatement, and that while it has correctly identified nuclear sites in the past, it often bungled the details, said Mr. Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
"They would get a site right, but they would be wrong about what was there," he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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