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February 20, 2004

U.N. inspectors probing Iran's nuclear program have found equipment that is far more advanced than anything the Iranian regime has previously acknowledged. The new finding, in a military complex no less, is the second dramatic piece of evidence uncovered this month confirming that Tehran has no intention of abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

Earlier, blueprints were discovered for a super-efficient centrifuge machine, known as P-2. The device would allow the Iranian regime to produce bomb-grade material far more quickly than the older P-1 model the mullahs were known to have.

The United Nations discoveries raise concerns about what else Iran may have acquired from the nuclear black market, perhaps designs for a complete weapon.

In July, 2003, I revealed a secret Iranian nuclear site in a military complex known as “Kolahdouz,” west of Tehran, where construction of a pilot uranium enrichment facility was nearly complete. In August 2002, I revealed the uranium enrichment site in Natanz, and the heavy water facility in Arak.

Confronted with this irrefutable evidence of its nuclear ambitions, and the consequent international pressure, Tehran agreed in October to U.N. snap inspections and pledged that henceforth it would operate with complete transparency. The newly uncovered evidence indicates quite the contrary: a deliberate game of hide-and-seek, intended to speed up Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, while feigning cooperation.

With this in mind, let’s look at Iran’s offer to provide nuclear fuel to the international market, as a desperate attempt to keep its nuclear weapons program alive by finding new rationales to explain it. Let’s not forget that Iran pledged to suspend its enrichment program last year, but continues to make and assemble centrifuges. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi suggested that Iran may soon resume enriching uranium (if it hasn’t already).

Once it masters the full nuclear fuel cycle, Iran could very well be just months away from producing weapons-grade material, and getting the bomb. That explains Kharrazi’s declaration that Iran will not give up its nuclear industry, which he described as a matter of “national pride.'' The State Department has described Iran as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism. The mind boggles at how nuclear capability could boost Tehran’s destructive hegemony in the region.

Iran’s calculating clerics have dribbled out information only when confronted, conceded their nuclear sites only when exposed, and consented to certain steps only when forced to do so. Even after they finally pledged to be totally transparent and end 18 years of lies, the new revelations surfaced.

To confront Tehran’s nuclear threat, a two-fold approach is needed. One, the International Atomic Energy Agency should demonstrate zero tolerance regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Tehran was already in non-compliance in October, and should have been declared as such. The recent revelations are a smoking gun, and should trigger a referral to the U.N. Security Council.

Two, the international community, in particular the U.S., must make any rogue nation’s efforts to get the bomb so costly that they far outweigh the benefits of having one. The ayatollahs’ Achilles’ heel is their opposition, which has already called for a referendum for regime change in Iran. The general public, particularly Iran’s youth, clearly rejects the regime in its entirety. The U.S. can best challenge Tehran’s stubborn insistence on a secret nuclear weapons program by supporting Iran’s democratic opposition.

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Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of "The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Jafarzadeh has revealed Iran's terrorist network in Iraq and its terror training camps since 2003. He first disclosed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesman for the U.S. representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of "The Iran Threat" (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). His email is Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org.