The National Council of Resistance in Iran, a group that wants to replace the current regime with a secular-democracy, publicly released detailed information about alleged covert nuclear activities in Iran. The accusation immediately followed the Trump Administration’s determination that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.
NCRI says that the newly-identified site is in the Parchin military base, the place that Iran has been most resistant to granting outside access to. It is known that Iran working on the high explosives necessary for a nuclear weapon’s “trigger” at Parchin. NCRI says that the effort was simply moved from one location within Parchin to another because the regime believes there is an “extremely low” chance of the IAEA inspectors entering the area.
The new location is vaguely referred to as a “Research Academy” by regime personnel, NCRI claims. It is located at the 500-acre “Plan 6” part of the Parchin site. The regime began building tunnels there in 2005 so it can serve as a backup site to the high explosives work in Parchin that was happening at the time.
The secret site is run by the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (also known as METFAZ). The group substantiated its claims by identifying 15 members of the METFAZ unit that is overseeing the high explosives work.
“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,” the deputy-director of NCRI’s U.S. office said.
FOX News asked two highly-regarded nuclear experts about the NCRI’s information and satellite photography of the site. Both agreed that the site appeared to be related to high explosives work, but that isn’t necessarily a violation of the nuclear deal. Nonetheless, both suggested that the IAEA ask for access to the site.
The METFAZ unit is part of a broader entity known as SPND that the U.S. government sanctioned in 2014 for secret nuclear activity. NCRI says that SPND has 7 components, of which METFAZ is one.
Other components focus on uranium enrichment; laser research; shaping the nuclear warhead and body; the interior of the warhead; the production of the warhead body and the missile fuel and other chemical components.
NCRI says that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards brigadier-general named Dr. Hassan Mohseni, also known as Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, is the leader of SPND and, therefore, the “main leader” of the covert nuclear program. Other secret SPND sites are in Tehran, just outside Tehran and outside Karaj.
The opposition group asks the international community to demand access to all SPND sites, even if Iran claims they are off-limits as military sites.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) is a highly controversial opposition group because it was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department for 15 years. The group went to court and successfully fought to be delisted in 2012.
The NCRI has amassed a mountain of bipartisan supporters. It is led by a woman and its stated objective is “a secular democratic republic in Iran, based on the separation of religion and state.” Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of 23 senior U.S. officials wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to directly engage the NCRI.
Obviously, the U.S. intelligence community needs to verify the information and we need to consider the agenda of the group providing the information, as well as the timing of its release (immediately following the U.S. government’s confirmation that Iran is complying with the deal).
However, NCRI has a strong track record and it would want to avoid a self-inflicted wound by being caught in a lie. In 2002, NCRI accurately revealed two secret nuclear sites; the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and the heavy water facility at Arak.
A nuclear expert with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Frank Pabian, said in 2010 that NCRI is “right about 90 percent of the time.”
In February 2015, NCRI identified an alleged secret uranium enrichment site that has been operating since 2008. The revelation happened as the U.S. and Iran came close to agreeing to the nuclear deal. In June 2015, NCRI disclosed joint Iranian and North Korean work on ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.
Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal will lead to an Iranian regime on steroids (through sanctions relief) and a United States disarmed of options to stop it. If NCRI’s allegations are true, then Iran has the best of both worlds: The benefits of compliance while continuing non-compliant nuclear weapons work.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak please contact us.