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Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb

Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Paris-based NCRI, told reporters at a news conference that the Khan network delivered to the Iranians a small quantity of highly enriched uranium that could be used in making a bomb. But he said the amount was probably too small for use in a weapon.

The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen organization, which the State Department has labeled a terrorist organization. The NCRI helped expose Iran's nuclear ambitions in 2002 by disclosing the location of the government's secret uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. But many of its subsequent assertions about the program have proven inaccurate.


Mohammad Mohaddessin, of the National Council for Resistance in Iran, uses satellite imagery to pinpoint what the group says is a previously unknown nuclear facility in Iran. (Laurent Rebours -- AP)

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On Wednesday, Mohaddessin used satellite photos to pinpoint what he said was the new facility, inside a 60-acre complex in the northeast part of Tehran known as the Center for the Development of Advanced Defense Technology. The group said that the site also houses Iranian chemical and biological weapons programs and that uranium enrichment began there a year and a half ago, to replace a nearby facility that was dismantled in March ahead of a visit by a U.N. inspections team.

The group gave no evidence for its claims, but Mohaddessin said, "Our sources were 100 percent sure about their intelligence." He and other group members said the NCRI relies on human sources, including scientists and other people working in the facilities and locals who might live near the facilities and see suspicious activities.

The IAEA, the U.N. nuclear monitoring body, had no immediate comment on the claims but said it took all such reports seriously.

The agency has no information to support the NCRI claims, according to Western diplomats with knowledge of the U.N. body's investigations of Iran.

Some diplomats and arms control experts privately discounted the Iranian group's latest claim, saying it appeared designed to undermine the deal that the Tehran government signed with Britain, France and Germany. In Tehran on Wednesday, Iranian officials said they considered the enrichment suspension temporary and contingent upon a favorable decision at the IAEA meeting next week and on quick progress in talks next month on long-term guarantees that Iran can apply nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Richburg reported from Paris. Staff writers Glenn Kessler and Dafna Linzer in Washington contributed to this report.


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