OpinionIran in the World PressIs Iran readying for war?

Is Iran readying for war?

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ImageMiddle East Times: New information from inside Iran reveals that the Islamic Republic is moving ahead with its ballistic missile production, much of it conducted from the confines of secret tunnels excavated around Tehran.

Middle East Times

By CLAUDE SALHANI (Editor, Middle East Times)

ImageNew information from inside Iran reveals that the Islamic Republic is moving ahead with its ballistic missile production, much of it conducted from the confines of secret tunnels excavated around Tehran.

The same sources report that on Aug. 17, Iran test fired a missile named "Safir Omir," or Messenger of Hope, saying it was a communication satellite.

"It's a military operation, it's a military program, disguised as a civilian program," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, an Iranian opposition figure in Washington who is close to the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or MeK – an Iranian resistance group opposed to the regime of the mullahs in Iran. The MeK is also known as the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

Jafarzadeh called the August test "a very concerted effort to hide the military nature of the launch."

The missile was fired from the Iranian desert, on a military base under the control of Iran's Air & Space Organization. The site is situated 70 kilometers from Semnan in the direction of Kavir. The launch pad was previously used for testing the Shahab missiles. The facility consists of several large halls, a command room, and the missile launch pads. There is a prototype on display in the hall, which has been viewed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The missile tested last month was a modified Shahab III. The intention was to improve range and accuracy.

"The goal is to fit a nuclear warhead on the missiles," said Jafarzadeh. "This is in non-compliance with the United Nations," he said.

The test was a failure, according to resistance sources inside Iran, and the missile did not reach the desired height.

Meanwhile, amid fears that the United States or possibly Israel could attempt to carry out air strikes against Iran to destroy as much as possible of its nuclear building program, the Islamic Republic has implemented a number of changes to its defense infrastructure.

Iran's ministry of defense was relocated to a secretive place, according to resistance sources in the country. About a month ago the defense ministry transferred its operations from Shariati Street in the Seyyed Khandan area of Tehran, to Langari Street, north of No-Bonyad Square. The current address of the ministry is: Pasdaran Avenue, No-Bonyad Square, Shahid Langari Street.

The reports say the defense complex occupies a very large area and its office buildings are scattered. There is no central building; the facilities are spread sparsely throughout the site. The location has been kept secret by the regime and all personnel have been ordered not to give out the new address. The ministry's Security Intelligence bureau has adopted tough measures hoping to prevent any leaks.

In further developments, the commander of Iran's air and space program Ahmad Vahid Dastjerdi was replaced by Mohammad Farrahi who is close to Ahmadinejad.

There are also reports of changes affecting the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) missile unit. According to information from the MeK, the Iranian government has opted to turn the missile unit into a completely independent unit, reporting directly to the IRGC commander.

The plan, according the Iranian resistance, calls for increases in the number of ballistic missile units.

"The mullahs' regime, ignoring the demands of the civilized world, continues its meddling in Iraq, its support of extremist and terrorist groups, and its export of terrorism and fundamentalism in the region," said Jafarzadeh. "As a result, the world is faced with an unprecedented crisis."

Jafarzadeh blamed the Western countries, whose "lack of a decisive position" over the past six years has only encouraged Tehran to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. Jafarzadeh called it a policy of offering only carrots.

"I emphasize that the mullahs' atomic crisis has only one solution: democratic change in Iran," said the Iranian opposition representative. Though, he added, the West remains convinced it can still introduce "behavior change" among the ruling mullahs. "This is a mirage and a delusion. This is the policy of appeasement disguised in a different form."

Jafarzadeh said that "democratic change in Iran is quite accessible and means of achieving it readily available." The West is either naïve about the depth of the hatred of the Iranian people for the ruling regime, or intentionally ignores the explosive potential of the Iranian society, added Jafarzadeh.

He asked that the West must recognize the right of the Iranian people for democratic change.

"The Iranian resistance can ignite the engine of massive movements in Iran. A large bi-partisan group of Members of Congress believe that keeping the main opposition movement, namely the People's Mojahedin Organization on the terror list is a serious impediment to democratic change in Iran."

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