Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday that a final nuclear deal with Iran could be derailed if new allegations from an Iranian dissident group that Iran is running a secret uranium enrichment operation at a facility near Tehran prove true.
Mr. Kerry told lawmakers that U.S. officials knew of charges related the site prior to this week, but that “it has not been revealed yet as a nuclear facility.”
“It is a facility that we are well aware of, which is on a list of facilities we have,” the secretary of state said during a Capitol Hill budget hearing on Wednesday morning. “I’m not going to go into greater detail.”
“But these things are obviously going to have to be resolved as we go forward,” he said.
Mr. Kerry made the comments during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, in which lawmakers raised questions about the revelations Tuesday by the National Coalition of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a dissident group that claimed the secret facility has never before been revealed to international officials.
At a press conference, the group said the underground facility on the outskirts of Tehran is known as “Lavizan-3” and has been used for clandestine nuclear research since 2008 — as well as for uranium enrichment with advanced IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuge machines.
The NCRI’s claim was not immediately verifiable, and the dissident group is known for having a controversial history in Washington. However, the group is seen to have deep sources inside Iran’s nuclear community and its members are credited with having made game-changing revelations about Tehran’s activities in the past.
Most notably, during the early 2000s, similar NCRI claims exposed the existence of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy-water plutonium facility — two operations that have been at the center of international scrutiny and distrust of Tehran during the years since then.
Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat, noted to Mr. Kerry Wednesday that “the MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”
“They are the ones that told the world about the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Sherman said. “They now say that there’s a secret facility at Lavazza 3.”