Report: Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons

Two reports on different websites indicate that Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons despite the sanctions and the various intelligence efforts to thwart the program. It's not a surprise

The website of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the Iranian opposition, has published the location of sites belonging to the nuclear weapon development program in Iran. "SPND has continued its work following the JCPOA. The structure and the personnel of SPND remain intact and part of the institution has been expanded,” said Alireza Jaffarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI U.S. Office, at a briefing. The added that Brig. Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi continues to be head of the SPND.    

The report disclosed the site located in Sorkh-e Hesar near Tehran. The site is located north of the Khojir missile development facility. "Around 2017, some sections of various groups of SPND, including the geophysics, known at the Chamran Group gradually moved in, as the construction of other sections of the site were later completed," said Jaffarzadeh. "Moreover, by being located in a military area, it has found an appropriate cover to keep commutes by, and the identities of, the personnel working there a secret."    

According to information of the Iranian opposition, the head of the geophysics group is Dr. Mohammad Javad Zaker, a lecturer at Beheshti university, and he has a deputy named Hamed Aber. "Geophysics group of the SPND works on projects related to underground nuclear tests such as discovery of underground tunnel and registration of the impact of explosion,” said Jaffarzadeh.    

The second SPND site presented by the Iranian opposition, called the Marivan Site, is located near the town of Abadeh in Isfahan province. The site was reported by NCRI for the first time in 2017. "What we have found out is that this site and the area surrounding it is completely controlled by the IRGC. Locals are not allowed in the area," said Jaffarzadeh.        

This site is connected to the operations of the "Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ)," a subsidiary of SPND involved in the building of nuclear weapons. An IRGC engineer named Hashemi Tabar oversees the secret projects being carried out at the site. 

This report follows one at the beginning of the month on the website of the ISIS research institute (also based on information from the Iranian nuclear archive) claiming that Iran is building a new centrifuge assembly facility in Natanz, a replacement for the one that blew up at the end of June in an operation attributed to the Israeli Mossad.  

"While highly useful as part of an effort to make nuclear weapons, Iran’s advanced centrifuge will remain uneconomic, compared to buying enriched uranium overseas, and an on-going threat to the international and regional communities. If Iran’s true goal is the development of a large-scale civilian nuclear power program, it would be far more likely to succeed if it abandoned its domestic centrifuge program, starting with not building a new advanced centrifuge assembly center," the ISIS report concludes.

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