Reprinted from NewsMax.com
IranCompletes Secret Uranium Plant
Kenneth R. Timmerman,NewsMax.com
Friday, April 21,2006
WASHINGTON -- Just when the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) thought it had its hands around the Iranian nuclear program,NewsMax has learned from intelligence sources that Iran'sRevolutionary Guards Corps is completing a secret, undergrounduranium enrichment plant that should begin operating in October2006.
Work on the new plant, located 50 miles outside thenortheastern Iranian city of Mashad, was begun with help from Russianengineers in 2003, Iranian intelligence sources said.
The facility has been built 150 meters below ground in a ruggedhighlands valley some 38 kilometers southeast of the city ofNishabour. The nearest inhabited area is a town named Homa.
A large agricultural center was constructed overhead todisguise the existence of the buried plant, the sources said. Asimilar disguise was initially used to hide the existence of theNatanz uranium enrichment plant to the southwest of Tehran, before aforeign government revealed its existence to the IAEA.
Over the last seven months, according to former Iranian army militaryanalyst Homayoun Moghaddam, now exiled in Europe, scientists andtechnicians from Belarus and Ukraine have been working on site toprepare the new facility to accommodate 155,000 P1 and P2 uraniumenrichment centrifuges.
He said the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Department, which is incharge of the facility, refers to it as the Shahid Moradian center,and that 850 Iranian scientists and technicians are currently workingthere, along with 85 experts from Belarus and Ukraine.
Their goal is to enrich enough uranium to build at least ninenuclear weapons per year, and to keep the site secret for the nextthree years, Moghaddam said.
The IAEA has verified previously clandestine production in Iran ofthe P1 centrifuge, an older design copied by Pakistan from plansacquired in Europe in the late 1970s by Dr. A.Q. Khan.
Iran announced last week that it had successfully begun enrichment ofuranium in a cascade of 164 P1 centrifuges at a pilot plant inNatanz, in defiance of a United Nations Security Council statementcalling on Iran to cease all enrichment activities by April 28.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also announced last weekthat Iran was now capable of producing the more advanced P2centrifuge, which is considered more efficient and more reliable thanthe older P1 design.
Until his announcement, Iranian officials had denied reports thatthey had imported P2 centrifuges from the A.Q. Khan network andclaimed that sample P2 centrifuges found in Iran had been producedexperimentally by a private company not working on a governmentcontract. But these latest reports of a completely separate,clandestine enrichment facility near Nishabour, if confirmed, wouldcompletely alter the picture the IAEA has constructed of Iran'snuclear infrastructure.
"I would argue that they have a parallel program of some size,"said Paul Leventhal, a former U.S. Senate aid and founder of theNuclear Control Institute, an independent research and advocacy groupin Washington, D.C.
Leventhal was debating Iran's nuclear programs on the "NewsHour"program with Jim Lehrer on April 11 before information on theNishabour facility was made public.
"I would also caution against a grand deception by Iran to playinto Western perceptions of Iran as being technologically andindustrially backward, and apparently having problems in facilitiesthat they're letting the IAEA into, while, at unknown locations, theyare proceeding with all the technological help and technology thatmoney can buy," Leventhal added.