Trump must work to stop Iran's secret nuclear program
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The conversation in Washington about the nuclear deal with Iran has been on tactical issues like how many months it might take for Iran “to breakout” from constraints of the agreement—length of time Tehran would need to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make one nuclear weapon. To extend breakout time, the accord requires a restriction on uranium enrichment at two key sites, Fordow and Natanz, and that the core of a heavy-water reactor in Arak be rendered inoperable. Without doing so, a plutonium byproduct might have been reprocessed into weapons-grade material, which would be another route for Iran to acquire the Bomb.

Nuclear weaponization is the conduct of experimentation on large-scale high explosives. To create a nuclear weapon, it is necessary to have fuel (enriched uranium or plutonium), an explosive device (trigger mechanism), and a delivery system, (e.g., a missile). Having ceded to Iran the right to enrich on its own soil and permitted it to develop an advanced enrichment capability, preventing weaponization is the final barrier against a nuclear-capable Iran.

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While breakout is important, the focus needs to be at a strategic level, e.g., weaponization per the presentation at a news conference on Apr. 21, 2017. At that event, the National Council of Resistance of Iran U.S. Representative Office exposed yet another nuclear site of Iran and provided detailed information about the continuation of work by the unit responsible for nuclear weaponization.

 

At the conference, the NCRI showed maps, graphs, and charts of the covert organization as well as names of individuals involved in the weaponization program. At the new site, given by Tehran an innocent-sounding name, “Research Academy,” the regime has used a military facility in Parchin to hide its activities and test high explosives.

“The engineering unit that is charged and tasked with actually building the bomb in a secret way for the Iranian regime is called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office, using a power point presentation.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said that his colleagues are “carefully evaluating” the NCRI package.

The NCRI called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect Tehran’s nuclear sites. It also demanded the international community halt Iran’s enrichment program and dismantle all covert sites involved in nuclear weapons research and development.

Attending that news conference and being a close follower of nuclear revelations by Iranian dissidents, I can attest the information presented appeared to be valid.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said structures visible in the satellite photography are consistent with a facility that makes high explosives. “The international inspectors should use authorities under the nuclear deal to go and look at this site,” Albright said. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the IAEA, said, “This is a typical design for a site that works with high explosives. ... Most likely IAEA should have access to this site.”

Jafarzadeh said, “This is the site that has been kept secret. … There is secret research to manufacture the bomb and basically cover up the real activities of the Iranian regime.”

The allegations of the NCRI drew upon its extensive network in Iran to obtain information it presented on April 21st. The intelligence demonstrated there is a secret “nerve center” of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons project. It is responsible for designing the bomb, and this center has been continuing its work, even after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s weaponization program must be totally dismantled; there needs to be airtight control over all aspects of Tehran’s nuclear program and permanent, unhindered and immediate access to all sites and access to and interviews with key nuclear experts; and all outstanding questions regarding possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program need to be followed up to expose the full scope of the nuclear weapons program. The Trump administration should emphasize these three steps. It would move the conversation to a strategic level, where it is most likely to deter the Iranian regime from cheating on its international obligations and prevent it from obtaining the bomb.

Dr. Raymond Tanter (@Americanchr) served on the senior staff of the Reagan National Security Council from 1981-82. He is now professor emeritus at the University of Michigan.


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