Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Iran Has Secret Uranium Enrichment Sites

Kenneth R. Timmerman, News Max:
New evidence is emerging that Iran has built several secret uranium enrichment plants in defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its nuclear inspection efforts.

The evidence comes to NewsMax from Western diplomats and a former Iranian intelligence officer.

One of the secret plants, located some 20 kilometers to the northeast of Tehran near the Lashgarak dam, houses a clandestine centrifuge uranium enrichment plant, where Iran is making nuclear weapons material, according to an Iranian intelligence officer who has defected to the West.

A Chinese contractor began work in 1995 on the Lashgarak plant, disguised as part of a bridge near the Latian dam on the fast-flowing Jajerud river, he said.

The plant was buried in a series of nine tunnels beneath the lake that were disguised as bridge pilings, the former intelligence officer said. Once the underground facility was installed, construction work on the bridge across the Jajerud river was abandoned. READ MORE

The 2,200-square-meter buried plant now houses uranium enrichment centrifuges and is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Pasdaran, he said.

The existence of the secret centrifuge plant, code-named Zirzamin 27, was first revealed by the Telegraph newspaper in London yesterday.

The Persian word zirzamin means "underground," and is used to describe underground cellars, presses, or springs.

According to the Telegraph, "27 refers to the 27-year-old Iranian revolution."

Another, possibly related site has been disguised as a fish farm near a village 60 kilometers north of Iran's Busheir power plant on the Persian Gulf.

The second site was completed around six to eight months ago, the former Iranian intelligence officer said. Part of it was built by a Canadian company that specializes in building warehouses using material that cannot be scanned by airborne sensors.

The former Iranian intelligence officer has provided information in the past regarding clandestine Iranian nuclear and missile locations that has been verified by Western intelligence agencies.

United Nations inspectors first suspected Iran might have a parallel military program in 2004, when efforts to visit a military site at Lavizan, in an area of Tehran controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, were thwarted. To prevent U.N. inspections of the Lavizan site, the Tehran municipality (then headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who became Iran's president last year) razed the laboratories to the ground and carted away the earth.

Commercial satellite images, obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security, documented Iran's destruction of the site in early 2004 following IAEA requests to inspect it.