The ayatollahs’ co-policies of nuclear defiance and aggression in Iraq were on display on Monday. According to reports from Iraq, in a sinister plot hatched at Tehran’s Baghdad embassy by Qods Force commander-turned-ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Tehran’s proxies launched a missile attack against Ashraf city, the residence of the main Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK).
The Iranian-made missiles were engraved with the Persian date of manufacture “24-5-1384,” which corresponds to August 15, 2005. Thankfully, no injuries were reported. Residents of Ashraf enjoy “protected person” status under the Fourth Geneva Convention and are under the protection of Multinational Force-Iraq. The attack was a flagrant violation of International Law.
Meanwhile in Vienna, the much anticipated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program is out and it is damning. The UN nuclear watchdog indicated that Tehran was withholding information critical to determining the true nature of its nuclear program.
More importantly, the report stated that Tehran, in absolute defiance of the will of the international community embodied in three consecutive UN Security Council resolutions, has refused to suspend uranium enrichment. The nine-page report, due to be discussed by the IAEA's board of governors at a June 2-6 meeting in Vienna, said that "Iran has not provided the Agency with all the information, access to documents and access to individuals necessary to support Iran's statements" that its activities are purely peaceful in intent.
Suspicious of Tehran’s clandestine weapons activities, the IAEA added that "Clarification of these is critical to an assessment of the nature of Iran's past and present nuclear program." Indicating the regime’s failure to provide the IAEA with “substantial explanations” about its suspected research into nuclear weapons, the agency bluntly accused it of a “willful lack of cooperation, particularly in answering allegations that its nuclear program may be intended more for military use than for energy generation,” according to the New York Times.
The IAEA report also contends that Iran is building more advanced centrifuges mainly produced by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), for uranium enrichment. The agency’s frustration with Tehran’s stonewalling and evasiveness, only thinly disguised in the report, centers on a set of 18 documents based on intelligence provided by different sources, which strongly point to a robust and ongoing nuclear weapons program.
The IAEA reported that it had not been permitted by Tehran to inspect several sites in April, where centrifuge components were being manufactured. Iran's work on "high explosives testing and the missile re-entry vehicle project remained a matter of serious concern." Documents indicated that Tehran was working on construction of an underground site that could be used to test fire nuclear bombs. In addition, the Agency said Tehran possessed diagrams on molding uranium metal into the shape of warheads.
The latest IAEA report corroborated bombshell revelations by Mohammad Mohaddessin of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), that, the Iranian regime's nuclear project had entered a new phase in April 2007. The Chairman of the NCRI's Foreign Affairs Committee told a press conference in Brussels in February that a command and control center, known as Mojdeh site, had been established to head up the drive to complete a nuclear bomb. Many of the activities at the site are disguised as part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps'(IRGC) Malek Ashtar University.
Plenty of other information indicates that ayatollahs' regime has in fact expedited its nuclear weapons activities, and that the IRGC has assumed command of a much larger segment of the nuclear drive. As the NCRI revealed, the Mojdeh site in Tehran houses a vast research and development facility where scientists are experimenting with neutron initiators and triggers for an atomic bomb; casting and machining of uranium metals; and researching fissile material needed for the production of a bomb, among other activities. At Khojir, a Defense Ministry site 72 miles southeast of Tehran, researchers are working on building a nuclear warhead. None of these activities is necessary for nuclear power generation.
The mullahs are building the bomb, as quickly as possible, as part of a broader militarization of their expansionist regime. Lacking domestic support, the clerical regime intends to bolster itself somehow. If Tehran joins the nuclear club, it will become a powerhouse in the region which, as the latest attack on Ashraf and the outbreak of unrest in Lebanon indicate, is already reeling from Tehran-instigated bloodshed. A nuclear bomb will also bolster the morale of the hated IRGC, the key means to the repressive regime's staying power.
If they are not stopped, we are looking at a nuclear-armed state-sponsor of terrorism with an aggressive agenda that extends beyond neighboring Iraq. Washington needs to recognize this fact, with finality. The restrictions and sanctions currently in place are a good start, but a growing number of Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle believe that sanctions should be coupled with political pressure. They maintain that Washington should reach out to Iran’s main democratic opposition. The continued blacklisting of the opposition has only undermined the war on real terrorists and their paymasters in Tehran, emboldening them in their nuclear drive and violent intervention in Iraq.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is the author of The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis (Palgrave: February 2008).
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.
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, and is on twitter @A_Jafarzadeh.