AFP: A high-profile Iranian exile accused Tehran on Thursday of running a secret uranium enrichment programme using lasers and of disguising the alleged activities behind legitimate companies. NEW YORK, Sept 14, 2006 (AFP) – A high-profile Iranian exile accused Tehran on Thursday of running a secret uranium enrichment programme using lasers and of disguising the alleged activities behind legitimate companies.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a former US spokesman for the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, said his sources in Iran had reported evidence that Tehran was using at least three facilities for the underground programme.
“Iran is heavily involved in a laser enrichment programme — something Iran has told the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that they have abandoned,” he said, describing the alleged activities as “extremely serious.”
He appealed to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to order a swift investigation of the sites, one of which at Lashkar Ab’ad west of Tehran he said was disguised as a company providing lasers for the medical and steel industries.
“I urge Mr ElBaradei to investigate this case immediately and send inspection teams to Lashkar Ab’ad… they need to be inspected immediately,” he told reporters, also urging the United States and European Union to intervene.
“This new information suggests it has been involved in all three possible ways (to enrich uranium) in an all-out effort to rush to the bomb,” he said.
He described his sources as first hand and highly-placed insiders with unrestricted access and said that while they were unable to say exactly how far the alleged programme had progressed, it was “very advanced and extensive.”
Uranium enrichment is a process in both civilian energy programmes and in creating weapons-grade material.
The IAEA, which is the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, says it has uncovered no evidence that Iran is enriching uranium to a level where it could be used to make nuclear weapons.
Jafarzadeh, who stepped down as spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran in 2003, says that IAEA inspections in Iran only followed his allegations that Tehran was involved in uranium enrichment activities.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is considered a front for the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran, which is classed as a terrorist organisation by both the United States and European Union.
It accuses President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime of committing rights abuses and recklessly pursuing nuclear weapons and supports international sanctions on Iran with the ultimate goal of regime change.