AFP: A prominent Iranian dissident claimed Tehran had mastered the design of nuclear capable cruise missiles secretly sold to the Islamic Republic by Ukraine and was
on the verge of producing copies. AFP
WASHINGTON – A prominent Iranian dissident claimed Tehran had mastered the design of nuclear capable cruise missiles secretly sold to the Islamic Republic by Ukraine and was on the verge of producing copies.
Alireza Jafarzadeh said the 12 weapons were now in the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and also fired off new claims about the corps’ past links with disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan.
His charges, made at a press conference in Washington, coincided with a spike in tensions in the showdown between Europe, the United States and Tehran over the Islamic Republic’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons.
Jafarzadeh neither identified his sources, on the grounds that to do so could expose them to reprisals by the Iranian government, nor provided documentary evidence.
The allegations could also not be independently confirmed.
Two of the Ukranian Kh-55 missiles were used by Iranian scientists in reverse engineering process that had allowed them to copy the design, Jafarzadeh said.
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told the country’s Supreme National Security Council that ” Iran has been successful in acquiring the technology for Kh-55 cruise missiles and Tehran is in the last stages of producing the missile,” Jafarzadeh said.
Jafarzadeh did not provide dates for the meeting, but said the copied missile’s 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) range would threaten European countries.
Ukranian President Viktor Yushchenko has admitted that missiles were shipped by the previous government in Kiev illegally to China and Iran.
Jafarzadeh also issued a new claim over alleged Pakistani complicity in Iran’s nuclear program, identifying a senior member of the Revolutionary Guard whom he said met Khan as far back as 1986 and 1987.
Meetings between Khan and a Brigadier General identified as Mohammad Eslami, chief of the guard’s research centre, disproved claims by Iran that Khan’s reported links to its nuclear program were in a purely civilian context, he said.
“I ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to interview him (Eslami) as soon as possible,” said Jafarzadeh.
Iran has defied the international community by resuming work on making reactor fuel that could also be used to make nuclear weapons but insists that it wants to continue talks on guaranteeing its atomic program is peaceful.
Jafarzadeh is president of Strategic Policy Consulting Inc. a US research firm, an analyst for the Fox News network. He was born in Iran before moving to the United States before the revolutioin in 1979.
He was formerly a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US government and Europe.
The NCRI vehemently contests the label, which it says was imposed by governments seeking to curry favor with Tehran.
Jafarzadeh he says previous revelations like the regarded alleged uranium enriching plants at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak prove his information and intentions are legitimate.