Bloomberg – Iran is developing a secret uranium enrichment site near Qazvin, 120 miles west of Tehran, a dissident group said today, citing satellite images of the area.
The facility is called Behjatad-Abyek and is code-named 311, according to the Iran Policy Committee, which supports the anti-regime People’s Mujahedeen of Iran.
“This is certainly part of the secret weapons program,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, who presented the photos at a Washington press conference. “It’s just moved underground, in tunnels, hidden from the outside world.”
The Iranian government has spent $100 million on the mountainous site, where the photos, taken as far back as 2008 and as recently as last month, show excavation and tunneling, the group said.
Jafarzadeh said intelligence information the group obtained indicates the facility could accommodate thousands of enrichment centrifuges, and construction at the site will be finished this year. He wouldn’t describe the sources of the information, saying that would endanger the lives of informants.
Iran hasn’t provided information that would confirm the peaceful intent of its nuclear program, United Nations nuclear inspectors said in a report disclosed this week.
The Iranian government boosted its uranium stockpile while failing to increase cooperation with inspectors probing whether the Persian Gulf country is trying to build nuclear weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
Uranium, the key ingredient for producing nuclear power or bombs, is at the center of the international dispute over Iran’s atomic work. Iran, home to the world’s No. 2 oil and gas reserves, is under four sets of UN sanctions because it refuses to curtail its nuclear work, which the U.S. and European Union say is a shield for weapons development.
Iran, which insists it wants to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, has been under UN investigation since 2003. The country’s Russian-built nuclear power reactor in the southern city of Bushehr was turned on Aug. 21.