The Iranian regime’s real intentions
For decades, some scholars, analysts and politicians have debated whether the Iranian regime’s nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes or for developing nuclear weapons. By examining the evidence carefully, it ought to become crystal clear that developing nuclear weapons has always been part of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Putting aside the regime’s clandestine activities over the past three decades, some Iranian leaders have rather surprisingly revealed secrets about Tehran’s nuclear activities. For example, on Nov. 29, 2021, the former head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, was the first Iranian official to admit that he was part of a program designed to develop nuclear weapons: “When the country’s all-encompassing growth began involving satellites, missiles and nuclear weapons, and surmounted new boundaries of knowledge, the issue became more serious for them.”
The second Iranian official to admit that Iran’s nuclear program has always had a military dimension is former Iranian Prime Minister Ali Motahari. He stated on April 20, 2022, when speaking to Iscanews in Tehran, that Iran was interested in obtaining nuclear weapons from the beginning. He pointed out that a country planning to have a nuclear program for peaceful purposes never starts with uranium enrichment, instead it creates reactors first. In other words, starting with uranium enrichment is a mistake if a country wants to secretly develop nuclear weapons: “To do enrichment directly creates the illusion that we want to make a bomb.” He added: “From the very beginning, when we entered the nuclear activity, our goal was to build a bomb and strengthen the deterrent forces but we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue, and the secret reports were revealed by a group of hypocrites.”
“Hypocrites” is a plural word often used by the Iranian regime to refer to the opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The group did reveal Iran’s nuclear activities on several occasions, which made it extremely difficult for the theocratic establishment to hide its secret activities.
The organization first revealed Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities at two major sites, Natanz and Arak, in 2000. Due to the NCRI’s connections in Iran, its information is said to have a high level of credibility. Frank Pabian, an adviser on nuclear non-proliferation matters at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, previously told the New York Times that the NCRI is “right 90 percent of the time.”
Furthermore, in 2017, additional critical information about Iran’s nuclear activities was disclosed by the NCRI. Former US President Donald Trump followed up by saying Tehran was “not living up to the spirit of the agreement.” Michael Anton, a former spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said at the time that his colleagues were “carefully evaluating” the NCRI information. The NCRI report stated: “Reliable information ... shows that the ‘nerve center’ of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons project, responsible for designing the bomb, has been continuing its work. Following the ... nuclear deal reached in 2015, not only has the unit remained in place and its activities not subsided, but it is now clear that in some fields its activities have even expanded.”
It is suspected that the Iranian regime carries out the military dimension of its nuclear program at the military site Parchin. Tehran has not allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect or monitor many of its nuclear-related sites. Tehran has disguised their true nature by labeling some of them military sites or conventional research centers. During the 2015 nuclear talks, Iran was determined that Parchin be beyond IAEA inspection.
It is incumbent on the international community to stop the regime from achieving the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
To back their claim that Iran’s nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes, the Iranian leaders refer to a fatwa issued by Ali Khamenei banning development of nuclear weapons. But this religious statement by Khamenei is most likely a cover-up.
As former IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei said: “I was told by a number of people, including President Mubarak of Egypt, that according to Shiite theology it is sometimes acceptable to deceive for the right cause. The concept is called taqqiya (dissimulation), meaning to protect oneself or those under one’s care from harm. I made it clear to our Iranian counterpart that regardless of the origins of this behavior, their denials and ongoing cover-ups had deeply hurt their credibility with the international community. From the outset they had dug a hole that would undermine their own diplomatic endeavors, what I referred to as starting out with a confidence deficit.”
In a nutshell, it should have become clear that Iran’s nuclear program has a military dimension. It is incumbent on the international community to stop the regime from achieving the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
- Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh