Opposition: Iran has tested 180 centrifuges at secret nuke facility

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Iran has been accused of concealing another nuclear facility from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The National Council of Resistance of Iran has reported that Iran has secretly built a nuclear facility near Isfahan. The Iranian opposition group said the nuclear site 15 kilometers east of Isfahan has been used to test centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium, a process required for the development of nuclear weapons.

The council told a news conference in Vienna on Tuesday that the nuclear site has tested up to 180 centrifuges. Council spokesman Firouz Mahvi, said the facility is termed the "Fuel Research and Production Center and spans 370,000 acres.

Mahvi said the site contains additional installations connected to Iran's nuclear program. He said Iran's nuclear program has advanced to the point where it could achieve nuclear weapons capability by 2005.

"The site has been built to test centrifuges that enrich uranium," Mahvi said. "It is continuing its uranium enrichment program despite demands by the IAEA to the contrary."

In August 2002, the council, the civilian wing of the Mujahadeen Khalq, disclosed two secret Iranian nuclear facilities one at Arak and the other at Natanz. In July 2003, the council reported an additional nuclear facility at Kolahdouz, located 14 kilometers southwest of Teheran.

The IAEA confirmed nuclear facilities at Arak and Natanz. Last week, an IAEA delegation visited the huge military facility at Kolahdouz. The IAEA did not announce the visit or the results, but Arab diplomatic sources said the delegation did not find signs of nuclear activity.

"We think the International Atomic Energy Agency should take into account all information from all sources and look at it carefully as they proceed with their inspections," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "They have continued to carry out rigorous inspections of Iran's nuclear activities, and so we look forward to seeing their reporting once they have been able to complete that task, in accordance with the resolution that the board of governors passed."

The Iranian opposition's assertion regarding a new nuclear site came on the eve of the a visit by IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei to Teheran. The agency has given Iran until Oct. 31 to fully answer all questions regarding its nuclear program.

"The purpose of Dr El Baradei's visit would be for Iran to provide the IAEA during that visit with all the remaining information required to clarify important questions that are still outstanding about Iran's nuclear programs," an agency statement said on Tuesday.

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