Archive for the ‘Iranian missiles’ category

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles

June 21, 2017

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles, Washington Times

(The North Korea – Iran nuclear/missile axis has been active for years. Why not? Iran has lots of money courtesy of Obama’s Iran Scam and North Korea has technology that Iran wants. Iran is also likely pleased that the threat of North Korean nuke-laden missiles may be diverting attention from the dangers posed by Iran. — DM)

Iranian dissidents have documented work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force. A dozen of those sites had never been disclosed before. (Associated Press/File)

Iran has increased production and testing of ballistic missiles since the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. while playing permanent host to scientists from North Korea, which has the know-how to build and launch atomic weapons, a leading Iranian opposition group said Tuesday.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a white paper that the dissidents say identifies and documents work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force.

A dozen sites had never been disclosed before, said the council, which operates a spy network that has exposed Iran’s hidden nuclear program.

Tehran views expertise from North Korea as being so critical that it has established residences in Tehran for Pyongyang’s scientists and technicians, according to the white paper. North Koreans have shown Iran how to dig tunnels and build “missile cities” deep inside mountains to prevent destruction by airstrikes, among other projects.

“On the basis of specific intelligence, the IRGC’s missile sites have been created based on North Korean models and blueprints,” the white paper said. “North Korean experts have helped the Iranian regime to build them. Underground facilities and tunnels to produce, store, and maintain missiles have also been modeled after North Korean sites and were created with the collaboration of the North Korean experts.”

Iranians also are traveling to North Korea, which uses occasional missile test-firings to rattle its neighbors South Korea and Japan, two strong U.S. allies.

“In the context of these trainings and relations, delegations of the IRGC’s aerospace constantly travel to North Korea and exchange knowledge, information and achievements with North Korean specialists,” the report said. “North Korea’s experts constantly travel to Iran while the IRGC’s missile experts visit North Korea.”

President Trump has been harshly critical of the 2015 deal struck by the Obama administration and five international allies to lift economic sanctions and other financial penalties in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, but has said he will stick with the accord for now while closely monitoring Tehran’s adherence to the deal.

Iran’s leaders say they have yet to see all the benefits promised with the lifting of sanctions.

But even supporters of the Obama deal say there has been little sign that Iran’s Islamic Republic has moderated its behavior on other fronts, including the series of ballistic missile tests in recent months that some argue violate U.N. sanctions. U.S. officials also say Iran continues to back terror groups and foment instability in regional hot spots such as Syria and Yemen.

At a press conference Tuesday, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the council’s deputy director in Washington, displayed satellite photos that he said clearly show trademark North Korean mountain entrances to “cities” that hold hundreds of missiles.

He said the regime reorganized the IRGC Aerospace Force to focus almost exclusively on missile production and testing rather than aircraft.

“It’s not by accident,” Mr. Jafarzadeh said. “It’s part of their overall strategy.”

He said a huge missile arsenal allows the ruling Shiite mullahs to intimidate Sunni Muslim neighbors such as rival Saudi Arabia. In addition, missiles provide a delivery system for the nuclear weapons that the regime plans to build once the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, expires in less than 10 years.

“We’re racing against the clock,” he said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference in Washington in April to present evidence that Tehran’s harsh Islamic regime is cheating on the nuclear deal by continuing secret work on atomic bomb components. The Trump administration recently certified that the Islamic republic is living up to its obligations in the deal, which restricts Tehran’s production of only nuclear material, not missiles.

The council’s report pays close attention to the Semnan missile center, a complex of storage facilities and launching pads for medium-range ballistic missiles in north-central Iran. It is here, the white paper says, that Iran melds missile work with nuclear research conducted by the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by the Persian acronym SPND.

The council first disclosed SPND’s existence in 2011. In 2014, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on SPND for conducting illicit work not allowed at by the pending nuclear deal.

“The Semnan center for missile projects has been much more active after the JCPOA,” a council official said. “The speed and scope of activities and research in Semnan has increased significantly in this period and the exchanges and traffic between SPND.”

Iran has flouted U.N. resolutions repeatedly by test-firing ballistic missiles. In February, the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies put the number at 14 since the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015. Since then, Iran has conducted at least two more tests.

On Sunday, Iran for the first time since 2001 fired an operational missile outside its boundaries, targeting an Islamic State-controlled town in eastern Syria. Tehran said the ground-to-ground missile strike was retaliation for the Islamic State’s June 7 terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament. In 2001, the regime fired missiles on resistance targets in Iraq.

Iran owns one of the world’s largest inventories of ballistic missiles. GlobalSecurity.org lists more than a dozen different short- and medium-range Iranian missiles, some of which closely resemble North Korea’s Nodong arsenal.

Tehran this year announced the launch of the Emad, which has a range of 1,000 miles. It said the test marked a first for an Iranian precision-guided ballistic missile.

More than ever, the resistance council said, Iran’s religious leaders see missiles as instrumental to their survival strategy.

“The Iranian regime has remained in power in Iran by relying on two pillars: internal repression and external export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism,” the council said. “Its illicit nuclear weapons program and its continued expansion of ballistic missiles serve its policy of export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.”

Iranian President: ‘We Need Missiles’ to Confront Trump Admin, Enemies

May 25, 2017

Iranian President: ‘We Need Missiles’ to Confront Trump Admin, Enemies, Washington Free Beacon, May 25, 2017

(Iran’s missiles for peace program. Secretary Tillerson spoke of his hopes for the future conduct of Iran. While laughing, he declined to comment on his expectations.– DM)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on May 22, 2017. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

A bipartisan delegation of nearly 50 senators announced on Thursday that it is moving forward with new legislation to increase economic sanctions on Iran as a result of its missile program, as well as the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism and illegal weapons trade.

“The U.S. secretary of state’s expectations of the Iranian president indicate the U.S. officials’ non-understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Jazzayeri was quoted as saying in the country’s state-controlled press.

***********************

Recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at the Trump administration this week, describing it as ignorant and saying that Iran “needs missiles” to confront the United States and its allies, according to recent remarks certain to rile leaders in Washington, D.C.

Just days after President Donald Trump blasted the Islamic Republic for its illicit ballistic missile program and support of terrorism in the Middle East, Rouhani confirmed that Iran would not cease its missile activity, despite repeated calls by U.S. officials.

“We need missiles and the enemy should know that we make everything we need and we don’t pay an iota of attention to your words,” Rouhani was quoted as saying on Wednesday during a meeting with Iranian cabinet members. “The remarks by the enemies of the Iranian nation against Iran’s missile power are out of ignorance.”

The Iranian leaders remarks support recent comments by senior military leaders in the country, who have repeatedly declared that Iran will “never stop” developing ballistic missiles, a program that has raised concerns with the U.S. intelligence community, which assesses that Iran’s missile program could be used to carry a nuclear weapon.

The remarks came as Iran announced the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory, helmed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

Iranian General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, and IRGC leader, said the factory is meant to boosts Tehran’s “missile power” and intimidate the United States and “Zionist regime,” or Israel.

“We will increase our missile power. Our enemies, the United States, and the Zionist regime (Israel) are naturally upset and get angry at our missile production, tests and underground missile facilities because they want Iran to be in a weak position,” Hajizadeh announced on Thursday.

The facility was built in the last few years, according to the IRGC. Iranian military leaders also are working on building Iran’s first “ground-to-ground” ballistic missile.

Iran’s repeated test firing of ballistic missiles, as well as its multiple space launches—which are believed to be cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile program—have riled the Trump administration and leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill.

A bipartisan delegation of nearly 50 senators announced on Thursday that it is moving forward with new legislation to increase economic sanctions on Iran as a result of its missile program, as well as the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism and illegal weapons trade.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a chief sponsor of the legislation, said that it is part of a larger effort to ensure that “Iran’s leaders understand they do not enjoy blanket impunity as the United States continues to live up to its commitments under the” nuclear agreement.

“Independent of the nuclear portfolio, and as President Rouhani starts his second presidential term, our broader policy towards Iran must be one that holds Tehran accountable for their destabilizing efforts in the region, illegal and dangerous missile technology development, and nefarious activities as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” Menendez said. “As the administration continues to review its Iran policy, Congress must set out clear markers that impose real consequences to Iran’s illicit behavior that runs counter to our national security and that of our allies in the region.”

The legislation would impose mandatory sanctions on all individuals associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as those who perform transactions with them.

Sanctions also would be applied to those who support Iran’s terror operations, including the IRGC, which is not currently designated as a terror organization by the United States.

The legislation also requires President Trump to block the property of all individuals and entities involved in supplying, selling, and transferring prohibited arms and other weaponry to Iran.

A State Department official, speaking on background, told the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration is moving closer to finishing its comprehensive review of the Iran deal and dealing with Iran’s provocative actions in the region.

“As Secretary [Rex] Tillerson said, the Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy,” the official said. “Once we have finalized our conclusions, we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

One veteran foreign policy adviser who is close to the White House told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration would not stand by as Iranian leaders mock and threaten the United States.

“The Obama administration treated the Iranians with kid gloves because that was to get the nuclear deal,” the source said. “That ended last January but the Iranians are still acting as if they have a friend in the White House. They threaten and mock the United States, our leaders, and our allies, and they expect us to roll with it. This president is not going to roll with it, and neither is Congress.”

Meanwhile, senior Iranian military leaders continue to criticize the Trump administration for its efforts to stop Iran’s missile program.

Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri offered harsh words for Secretary of State Tillerson following his call for Iran to cease its ballistic missile work.

“The U.S. secretary of state’s expectations of the Iranian president indicate the U.S. officials’ non-understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Jazzayeri was quoted as saying in the country’s state-controlled press.

Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister hold briefing

May 20, 2017

Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister hold briefing, PBS via YouTube, May 20, 2017

 

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban

May 12, 2017

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban, Washington Free Beacon, May 12, 2017

(Please see also, Iran to Launch Two New Satellites, Likely Cover for Illicit ICBM Program. — DM)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 11: U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee with his fellow heads of the United States intelligence agencies in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The disclosure comes just days after Iranian leaders announced the upcoming launch of two new domestically produced satellites. Iran has long used its space program as cover for illicit missile work, as the know-how needed to launch such equipment can be applied to long-range ballistic missile technology.

Daniel Coats, America’s top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran’s ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

Iran’s ballistic missile work, particularly its focus on ICBMs, runs counter to United Nations resolutions barring such activity, though it remains unclear if the Trump administration plans to pursue new sanctions on Iran.

Iran continues to perform key research and development on nuclear missile capabilities despite the landmark nuclear agreement with Western powers, according to the last U.S. intelligence assessments.

“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so” Coats wrote in his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

U.S. officials are unsure if Iran will build nuclear weapons, but it is likely this intention would dictate Tehran’s future adherence to the nuclear deal, which the administration of former President Barack Obama framed in such a way as to leave out the issue of ballistic missiles.

The United States assesses that Iran remains about a year away from a functional nuclear missile if it decides to build one in violation of the nuclear deal.

Iranian military leaders claim their missile work is unrelated to the nuclear agreement and permissible under it. The country’s refusal to abandon this work has caused concern on Capitol Hill, as well as among U.S. national security insiders who view the work as related to Iran’s aspirations for regional dominance.

The U.S. intelligence community maintains that Iran—which has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East—likely would use this technology to launch a nuclear weapon.

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” according to Coats. “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.”

“Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” Coats wrote, referring to Iran’s covert missile work. “Progress on Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies.”

Iran “continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against U.S. allies in the region,” Coats testified.

This includes cyber attacks “directly against the United States,” such as in 2013, when an Iranian hacker penetrated the computer systems of a U.S. dam.

Iran also is pursuing a massive buildup of its military, which observers have described as unprecedented.

The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed that Iran is developing “a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target U.S. and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles,” according to Coats.

Iran to Launch Two New Satellites, Likely Cover for Illicit ICBM Program

May 9, 2017

Iran to Launch Two New Satellites, Likely Cover for Illicit ICBM Program, Washington Free Beacon, , May 9, 2017

A picture taken on August 20, 2010 shows the test firing at an undisclosed location in Iran of a surface-to-surface Qiam missile, entirely designed and built domestically and powered by liquid fuel according to Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, a day before the Islamic republic was due to launch its Russian-built first nuclear power plant. AFP PHOTO/VAHID REZA ALAEI (Photo credit should read VAHID REZA ALAEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran is preparing to launch two new domestic satellites into space, according to a new announcement by Iranian military leaders that is stirring discussion among U.S. national security insiders who say the move is likely cover for the test firing of advanced intercontinental ballistic missile technology that could be used as part of Iran’s nuclear program.

The latest test comes as the Trump administration continues to engage in a comprehensive review of the Iran nuclear agreement that U.S. officials tell the Washington Free Beacon will result in a full-scale plan to “meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

Iran continues to boost its military might and move forward with the testing of controversial ballistic missile technology. The expertise needed to launch satellites into space is similar to that needed to properly launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could potentially reach U.S. soil.

U.S. officials and national security experts have been paying close attention to Iran’s missile progress as North Korea ups its provocative moves. Tehran and Pyongyang have long traded illicit missile technology on the black market and Iran’s nuclear progress closely mirrors that of its partner.

The Iranian satellite launches also come as Iran engages in an unprecedented effort to reorganize and boost its military so it can serve as an offensive fighting force, a move that has drawn concern among U.S. national security insiders.

One State Department official, speaking only on background, told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration is moving closer to formulating a plan aimed at confronting Iran’s increasingly provocative behavior.

“As Secretary [Rex] Tillerson said, the Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy,” the official said. “Once we have finalized our conclusions, we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

Iranian military leaders announced this week that they are preparing for the launch of two new domestically produced satellites.

“Now, we have two ready-to-launch satellites; one of them is Amir Kabir sensing satellite and another one is Nahid telecommunication satellite and over 97 percent of preparation works have been carried out on them,” Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying Monday in the country’s state-controlled press.

Iran has a history of using space launches as cover to test and refine its ICBM technology, which remains part of its larger nuclear weapons program.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Free Beacon that launches of this nature have only increased since the landmark nuclear agreement relaxed international restrictions on Iran’s military behavior.

“That Iran uses its satellite program as cover for ballistic missile development is no secret although, quite realistically, since John Kerry loosened restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, they don’t need to hide quite so much,” Rubin said. “The key thing to recognize is that we’re no longer talking about just Iran’s capability.”

Rubin said that U.S. leaders should be paying close attention to the illicit Iranian-North Korean arms trade.

“When it comes to nuclear technology, Iran and North Korea are like sorority sisters swapping clothes or an old married couple sharing a toothbrush,” Rubin said. “What happens in Tehran doesn’t stay in Tehran.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, a research fellow and Iranian regime expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called on the Trump administration to impose new sanctions on Iran as a way to roll back its provocative behavior.

The Obama administration moved in its final days in office to lift a number of sanctions on Iran that have enabled it to reap billions in cash windfalls, a portion of which has gone to fund the Islamic Republic’s military buildup.

“The best way to stop Iran’s ballistic missile program is to impose sanctions on the industries involved in the program,” Ghasseminejad said. “This includes the petrochemical, mining and metallurgy, telecommunications, automotive, oil and gas, and electronics industries. The U.S. used the industry-based sanctions to curb Iran’s nuclear program and they were very effective.”

Further Evidence of Iran-North Korea Military Connection

May 6, 2017

Further Evidence of Iran-North Korea Military Connection, Iran Focus, May 5, 2017

London, 5 May – Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korea’s assistance when Iran tried to launch a cruise missile from a midget submarine earlier this week. Intelligence reports claim the submarine was the same type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010, which was Pyongyang designed.

This was the first time Iran attempted to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater, but the launch failed, according to U.S. defense officials. That North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs has been long suspected by nonproliferation experts.

Perhaps most worrisome for the United States is that this occurred in the narrow and crowded Strait of Hormuz, where much of the world’s oil passes each day.

Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said, “The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles, over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

“In the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,” Lewis added.

The ballistic missile Iran tested in late January was based on a North Korean design, the Pentagon said. Another missile launch conducted by Iran last summer, was similar to the most advanced missile Pyongyang has successfully tested to date, a North Korean Musudan.

North Korea’s Taepodong missile looks almost identical to Iran’s Shahab, according to defense analysts.

North Korea successfully launched a missile from a submarine for the first time in 2015, and officials believe Tehran is not far behind.

North Korea and Iran are the only countries in the world who deploy the Yono-class submarine. Midget subs are used in shallow waters, where they can hide. The 290-foot South Korean warship that sank in 2010 and killed more than 40 sailors, was ambushed in shallow water by a midget sub. However, North Korea denies involvement in the attack.

A U.S. defense official who declined to be identified stated, “When those midget subs are operating underwater, they are running on battery power—making themselves very quiet and hard to detect.”

During testimony at the House Armed Services Committee late last month, Admiral Harry Harris, the head of American forces in the Pacific said, “We are being taken to the cleaners by countries that are not signatories to the INF.” Harris warned that because the U.S. is a signatory to the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty signed in 1987 between Russia and the United States, the United States has no land-based short range or medium range missiles. Iran and North Korea are under no such constraints.

The BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, and potentially puts U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach, if its problems are fixed.

It’s unclear to what extent North Korea is involved in the failed launch, apart from sharing their technology, according to officials.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, tried to garner support for more United Nations sanctions against North Korea by hosting leaders from Southeast Asia in Washington on Thursday.

The White House put Iran “on notice” just days after Iran’s first ballistic missile test during the Trump administration.

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected

April 25, 2017

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected, Center for Security Policy, Clare M. Lopez, April 24, 2017

The Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, born in secrecy and kept hidden for years, has never skipped a beat and today continues on course in underground and military facilities to which inspectors have no access. On 21 April 2017, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the oldest, largest, and best organized democratic Iranian opposition group presented startling new evidence that the jihadist regime in Tehran is violating the terms of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement reached in July 2015 among the P-5 +1 (Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and Iran.

As will be recalled, it was the NCRI that first blew the lid off Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2002, at a time when it had been in progress for at least fourteen years (since 1988), unbeknownst to most of the world, including the IAEA. Virtually all of the Iranian nuclear sites now known publicly were only retroactively ‘declared’ by the mullahs’ regime after exposure: the Natanz enrichment site, Isfahan conversion site, Fordow enrichment and Research and Development (R&D) site, Lavizan-Shian, and more. Regularly corroborated additional revelations since 2002 by the NCRI have built a record of credibility that should prompt a closer official look at these new reports by the U.S. State and Defense Departments, National Security Council (NSC), and White House.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office, provided a devastating expose of the ongoing activities of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), the Tehran-based element of the Iranian Ministry of Defense that has primary responsibility for the regime’s nuclear weapons development. The SPND, established in February 2011, was officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in August 2014 for engaging in nuclear weapons R&D.   Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (aka Dr. Hassan Mohseni), the founder and director of the SPND and a veteran IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) brigadier general, was designated individually under UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1747 in 2007 and by the U.S. in July 2008 for his involvement in Iran’s proscribed WMD activities. Despite these designations, and the IAEA’s failure to resolve the many critical indicators of “Possible Military Dimensions” related to Iran’s nuclear program as specified in the November 2011 IAEA Board of Governors report, the July 2015 JCPOA inexplicably lifted sanctions against the SPND.

It is hardly surprising, then, to learn that the SPND not only continues critical weaponization research involving nuclear warheads, triggers, and explosives, but has expanded that work at each of seven subordinate locations. One of these, revealed by the NCRI in 2009 but never declared to the IAEA, is the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (Markaz-e Tahghighat va Tose’e Fanavari-e Enfejar va Zarbeh or METFAZ), which works on triggers and high-impact, non-conventional explosives. The current METFAZ director is a Ministry of Defense engineer named Mohammad Ferdowsi, whose expertise is in high explosives. Ferdowsi also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the High-Explosive Society of Malek Ashtar University (affiliated with the Defense Ministry).

After conclusion of the July 2015 JCPOA, much of METFAZ’s personnel and work was moved to the Parchin military facility for better cover and security. Parchin Chemical Industries, an element of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO), was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2008 for importing “a chemical precursor for solid propellant oxidizer, possibly to be used for ballistic missiles.” Parchin is the location where the IAEA long suspected Iran was conducting test explosions for nuclear detonators. In October 2014, Iran finally admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, but implausibly claimed they were not for weapons development. Equally incredibly, the IAEA concluded a secret side deal with Iran that allowed it to collect its own samples at Parchin—in which the IAEA in fact did find evidence of enriched uranium. But despite that and more evidence, the JCPOA was concluded and sanctions against Parchin Chemical Industries were lifted.

Within Parchin are twelve separate military and missile complexes. According to the NCRI’s new information, METFAZ has established a new location within one of these that is near the center of Parchin and referred to simply as the “Research Academy” in SPND internal communications. Located on the sprawling Parchin complex some 30 miles southeast of Tehran, the new METFAZ center is called the Chemical Plan of Zeinoddin and is located in a section called Plan 6. It’s completely fenced in and protected by heavy security under control of the IRGC’s Intelligence Service. What goes on there is concealed from the IAEA, and likely with good reason.

Old and New Locations for the SPND

METFAZ’s Research Academy Location within Parchin Plan 6 Area

Lambasting the Iranian regime for its ongoing regional aggression and support to terrorist organizations, as Secretary of State Tillerson did on 20 April 2017, is certainly a step in the right direction. Noting that after ten years, Iran can break out and build all the bombs it wants is also a useful observation. But neither of those comes close to fulfilling the Trump campaign pledge to “rip up” the JCPOA – or hold Iran accountable for its violations of the JCPOA. Secretary Tillerson’s 18 April letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, certifying that Iran was in compliance with the 2015 deal, simply cannot be squared with the NCRI’s latest revelations, which it has shared with both the U.S. government and the IAEA. Indeed, the independent Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) issued a March 3, 2017 report in which it explicitly states about the IAEA’s 24 February 2017 Quarterly report, “Nowhere in the report does the IAEA state that Iran is fully compliant with the JCPOA, and it should not make that judgement.”

The real problem with the JCPOA—and why it needs to be ripped to shreds—is not what’s in it: it’s what’s been left out or exempted in any number of secret side deals that the U.S. and IAEA concluded with the Iranians. Among critical issues either explicitly permitted or simply not covered in the JCPOA are the following:

  • Iran keeps its entire nuclear infrastructure intact
  • Iran keeps all its centrifuges and is allowed to work on newer models
  • Iran can deny IAEA inspectors access to any site it seeks to keep off-limits
  • Iran can continue its ballistic missile nuclear weapons delivery system research, development, and testing
  • Iran’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and ballistic missile collaboration with North Korea is not mentioned in the JCPOA
  • Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism is off-limits for the JCPOA

The Trump administration must make good on its campaign promises with regard to Iran, its nuclear weapons program, and the JCPOA. The U.S. with its international partners and the IAEA must demand that Iran fully implement all UN Security Council Resolutions (including the one prohibiting Iran from any nuclear enrichment activities); accept the Additional Protocol; and allow unhindered access for IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities.

Beginning to fill relevant USG positions with officers untainted by association with the failed JCPOA or Iran Lobby affiliates like NIAC (National Iranian American Council) is an imperative and urgent first step. Announcing U.S. intent to end all activities associated with the JCPOA, hold Iran to account for its human rights abuses, involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and continuing support for terrorism would be natural subsequent policy positions.

We look forward to the results of the JCPOA policy review that Secretary Tillerson has announced.