Posted tagged ‘Iranian nukes’

Iran may withdraw from N-deal for “US violations

July 18, 2017

Iran may withdraw from N-deal for “US violations, DEBKAfile, July 18, 2017

(Why not? Iran has already received all of the substantial U.S. financial benefits of the Iran Scam. Withdrawal would allow Iran to pursue its nuclear objectives without the minor conveniences of trying to hide them. Please see also, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected. — DM)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told a National Interest interview Tuesday: “If it comes to a major [US] violation, or what in the terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.” This was his rejoinder to the Trump administration’s statement in certifying that Iran was in compliance of the nuclear deal while “in default of its spirit.”

 

Trump Admin to Hit Iran With New Sanctions as Tehran Threatens Attacks on U.S. Bases

July 17, 2017

Trump Admin to Hit Iran With New Sanctions as Tehran Threatens Attacks on U.S. Bases, Washington Free Beacon, July 17, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected. — DM)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

The Trump administration is expected to ratchet up pressure on Iran with a slew of new sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s illicit ballistic missile program and regional support for terrorism as the landmark Iranian nuclear deal hits its two-year anniversary, according to senior U.S. officials who deemed Iran in violation of the agreement’s “spirit.”

News of the new sanctions comes on the same day that Iranian military leaders threatened attacks on U.S. forces and bases in the Middle East should America move forward with new sanctions, particularly ones targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC.

The new sanctions are part of a larger White House effort to counter Iran’s massive military buildup and rogue militant activities across the Middle East, specifically in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces have launched a series of direct attacks on American forces in recent weeks.

U.S. official dubbed Iran “the most dangerous threat to U.S. interests” and promised a series of new efforts both militarily and policy oriented to combat the Islamic Republic’s illicit activities.

The new sanctions are being leveled outside the purview of the nuclear deal, meaning that they are all non-nuclear related and do not violate conditions of the deal barring the United States from engaging in such activity.

The Trump administration is continuing to perform a full-scale review of its Iran policy, including the nuclear deal. The review is set to be completed in about a month’s time, according to the administration.

The White House must make a decision by Tuesday on whether it will recertify that Iran is in compliance with the deal. The administration is likely to again certify Iran as in compliance of the agreement, despite mounting evidence this not the case. Deliberations in the White House had not concluded as of late Monday morning, but officials signaled they were leaning towards certifying Iran as not in technical violation.

U.S. officials were hesitant to deem Iran in direct violation of the deal, but said Tehran “is in default on the spirit of that agreements,” according to senior administration officials who spoke on background.

“Years of concessions … have resulted in the unintended effect of empowering Iran across the region,” one senior administration official said about the package of new sanctions on multiple Iranian individuals and entities tied to the country’s ballistic missile program and proliferation efforts.

“What we’re saying is Iran is in default of the spirit of the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal’s official title. “We need to ensure more aggressively they are in compliance with the letter of the JCPOA.”

U.S. officials said that Iran has obfuscated key details of its nuclear program, and continues to engage in activities that could be in violation of the agreement.

“Iran has been less than forthcoming, walking up to the edge of violating the JCPOA,” one senior U.S. official said. “That behavior has to stop.”

Officials also criticized key flaws in the deal that allow Iran to engage in critical nuclear work within the next decade.

The United States plans to “ramp up our efforts to verify reports” of Iran’s alleged violations, officials said.

As part of the effort to combat Iran’s activities, the Trump administration is expected to announce an additional package of sanctions that includes 16 Iranian entities and individuals found to be supporting Tehran’s illicit and criminal activities in the region. This includes seven entities and five individuals found to be supporting the Iranian military and criminal organizations.

Sanctions also have been leveled on three networks designated as supporting Iran’s military procurement and another two organizations supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.

As news of the expected new package of sanctions came, Iranian military leaders issued new threats warning of attacks on U.S. regional bases should the Trump administration move forward with plans to sanction the IRGC and designate it as a terror group.

“Putting the IRGC in one single class with the terrorist groups and imposing similar sanctions against the IRGC poses a major risk to the U.S., its bases and forces deployed in the region,” Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned on Monday during remarks before IRGC commanders.

Baqeri also lashed out at sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, stating, “the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile power is defensive and is never negotiable at any level.”

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.”

Iran Developing Advanced Nuclear Capabilities, Reducing Time to Weapon

June 5, 2017

Iran Developing Advanced Nuclear Capabilities, Reducing Time to Weapon, Washington Free Beacon, June 5, 2017

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

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, bragged in April that Tehran is prepared to mass-produce advanced centrifuges on “short notice.” Work of this nature would greatly increase the amount of nuclear fissile material produced by Iran, prompting concerns the country could assemble a functional nuclear weapon without being detected.

The issue is complicated by the lack of access international nuclear inspectors have to Iran’s contested military sites, according to the report.

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Iran is believed to be developing advanced nuclear-related capabilities that could significantly reduce the time it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon, according to statements by Iranian officials that have fueled speculation among White House officials and nuclear experts that the landmark accord has heightened rather than reduced the Islamic Regime’s nuclear threat.

The head of Iran’s nuclear program recently announced the Islamic Republic could mass produce advanced nuclear centrifuges capable of more quickly enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. Work of this nature appears to violate key clauses of the nuclear agreement that prohibits Iran from engaging in such activity for the next decade or so.

The mass production of this equipment “would greatly expand Iran’s ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability,” according to nuclear verification experts who disclosed in a recent report that restrictions imposed by the Iran deal are failing to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear pursuits.

The latest report has reignited calls for the Trump administration to increase its enforcement of the nuclear deal and pressure international nuclear inspectors to demand greater access to Iran’s nuclear sites.

It remains unclear if nuclear inspectors affiliated with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, have investigated Iran’s pursuit of advanced centrifuges, according to the report, which explains that greater access to Iran’s sites is needed to verify its compliance with the deal.

The report comes amid renewed concerns about Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement and its increased efforts to construct ballistic missiles, which violate international accords barring such behavior.

“Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges,” according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security. “The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured.”

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, bragged in April that Tehran is prepared to mass-produce advanced centrifuges on “short notice.” Work of this nature would greatly increase the amount of nuclear fissile material produced by Iran, prompting concerns the country could assemble a functional nuclear weapon without being detected.

The issue is complicated by the lack of access international nuclear inspectors have to Iran’s contested military sites, according to the report.

Salehi’s declaration highlights the “profound weaknesses in the JCPOA which include lack of inspector access, highly incomplete knowledge of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities and output, and too few centrifuge components being accounted for and monitored,” according to the report.

Iran already has manufactured more centrifuge parts than needed for the amount of nuclear work permitted under the agreement.

The terms of the agreement permit Iran to operate one advanced IR-8 centrifuge. However, Iran is known to have assembled more than half a dozen such centrifuges.

Iran also is working to construct IR-6 centrifuges, which also point to an increased focus on the production of enriched nuclear materials.

“These numbers are excessive and inconsistent with the JCPOA,” according to the report. “Moreover, in light of Salehi’s comments, the excessive production of [centrifuge] rotors may be part of a plan to lay the basis for mass production.”

Iran’s work on “any such plan is not included in Iran’s enrichment plan under the JCPOA,” according to the report.

Inspectors affiliated with the IAEA should immediately investigate the total number of centrifuge parts in Iran’s possession and determine exactly how many of these parts are currently being manufactured, the report states. The IAEA also should attempt to keep tabs on any clandestine nuclear work Iran may be engaging in.

Iran may be misleading the world about its centrifuge production and it still has not declared all materials related to this work, as is obligated under the nuclear deal.

“A key question is whether Iran is secretly making centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows at unknown locations, in violation of the JCPOA, and if it takes place, what the probability is that it goes without detection,” the report concludes.

Additionally, “the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured,” the report states.

“They need to ensure that Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing is consistent with the intent of the nuclear deal as well as the deal’s specific limitations on advanced centrifuges,” according to the report. “Moreover, the Iranian statement illuminates significant weaknesses in the Iran deal that need to be fixed.”

When asked to address the issue, a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s centrifuge work remains very “limited” under the nuclear agreement.

“Under the JCPOA, consistent with Iran’s enrichment and enrichment and [research and development] plan, Iran can only engage in production of centrifuges, including centrifuge rotors and associated components, to meet the enrichment and R&D requirements of the JCPOA,” the official said. “In other words, Iran’s production of centrifuges and associated components are limited to be consistent with the small scale of R&D that is permissible under the JCPOA.”

If Iran is in violation of the deal, the United States will take concrete action to address this once the Trump administration finishes its interagency review of the Iran deal.

“The Trump administration has made clear that at least until this review is completed, we will adhere to the JCPOA and will ensure that Iran is held strictly accountable to its requirements,” the official said.

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.

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.

MKO Seeking to Provoke US to Attack Iran: Ex-CIA Officer

April 30, 2017

MKO Seeking to Provoke US to Attack Iran: Ex-CIA Officer, Tasnim News Agency, May 1, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected. — DM

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A former military intelligence officer with the CIA said MKO works closely with the Israeli spy agency Mossad, noting that the terror group is seeking to create a “false narrative” about Tehran’s nuclear program in a bid to provoke the US to attack Iran.

“MKO (Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as MEK) works closely with the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and is also supported by many pro-Israel American former and current officials as well as congressmen. It has frequently surfaced documents, laptops and false information produced by the Israelis to convince the public that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is cheating on the agreement to limit its nuclear research program. Its ultimate objective is to create a false narrative that would encourage the United States to attack Iran, killing Americans and Iranians but serving Israeli foreign policy objectives…,” Philip Giraldi told the Tasnim news agency.

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the US government in the Middle East.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: The terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) recently claimed that the Islamic Republic is violating the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers by secretly conducting research on nuclear weapons components at the Parchin military site in Iran. The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) strongly dismissed the allegations by the terrorist group against Tehran’s nuclear program, saying the claims are of no value for the Islamic Republic. What is your take on this? What is behind such allegations?

Giraldi: MKO works closely with the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and is also supported by many pro-Israel American former and current officials as well as congressmen. It has frequently surfaced documents, laptops and false information produced by the Israelis to convince the public that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is cheating on the agreement to limit its nuclear research program. Its ultimate objective is to create a false narrative that would encourage the United States to attack Iran, killing Americans and Iranians but serving Israeli foreign policy objectives. Iran does not, in fact, threaten either Israel or the United States.

Tasnim: It seems that the new US administration has breathed new life into the terrorist group. Republican US Senator John McCain praised the head of the MKO, in a recent meeting in the Albanian capital, Tirana. What do you think? What is terror group looking for under Trump?

Giraldi: I fear that the Trump administration, which has already warned Iran several times and is currently undertaking a policy review, will prove to be extremely hostile to Iran. Some congressmen like McCain and Lindsey Graham will be part of this process, using fabricated information provided by MKO to make a case that Iran must be treated as an enemy and dealt with accordingly. This propaganda is also coming directly to Washington from Saudi Arabia as well as Israel.

Tasnim: As you know, more than 17,000 Iranians, many of them civilians, have been killed at the hands of the MKO in different acts of terrorism including bombings in public places, and targeted killings. Why do Saudi Arabia, US, and certain European countries continue to support the anti-Iran terror group despite its heinous crimes?

Giraldi: MKO has also killed Americans and was until four years ago on the list of US recognized terrorist organizations. That MKO has killed many thousands of innocent Iranians is not reported in the western media, so no one knows about it. Those who support MKO do so because they believe it to be a legitimate opposition group to the Iranian government, which is a cause that they support. They fail to recognize that it continues to use terror as a weapon and that it operates as a cult that actually brainwashes and even kills its followers when they step out of line. It is a useful tool for the Iran haters.