Opposition Group: Iran Stepping Up Nukes

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - An exiled Iranian opposition group claims Teheran is making rapid progress in its nuclear weapons program.

At a press conference in Belgium Wednesday, Muhammad Mohaddessin, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), headquartered in Paris, said Iran has entered "a new phase in its nuclear project."

According to NCRI, the Islamic state now has a command and control center dedicated to its nuclear armament program and a facility south of Teheran to produce nuclear warheads.

Mohaddessin called the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate's (NIE) claim that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 "not accurate."

"Lack of firmness by the international community has offered the regime the opportunity to get closer to obtaining the nuclear bomb," Mohaddessin said, adding that the group had provided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the updated information Tuesday, urging them not to let up on investigating sites in Iran and to interview more scientists.

Four years ago, the IAEA disclosed information on two secret Iranian nuclear plants. But the group has been unable to substantiate its claims of the country's clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Mohaddessin said this latest information came from undercover sources in Iran, including some staff at the country's nuclear power plants.

The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, which is working to overthrow the government of Iran and has been labeled a terrorist group by Iran, the US and the EU.

"Maintaining the main opposition on the terrorist list is considered by the regime as an international license to acquire nuclear weapons," Mohaddessin said. He also claimed that North Korea has helped Iran in its quest to develop nuclear bombs.

Meanwhile, Israel has dispatched some 15 members of Knesset , with strong diplomatic and military backgrounds, to European capitals.

"They [the US and its allies] will explain that Iran is continuing to produce nuclear weapons and that we must stop it -- that the international community must mobilize because by 2009, Iran will know how to manufacture a nuclear weapon or at least enrich uranium for that purpose," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Wednesday.

The Israeli delegates span the political spectrum, Mekel said, which "shows that on this subject, there are no political differences in Israel."

MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) met with German parliamentarians and government officials in Berlin Wednesday.

"I'm here to explain the importance of the sanctions aimed at Iran," Beilin said. "Even if the [US assessment] is accurate and the Iranians stopped their military program in 2003, they are still illegally enriching uranium, and that can be transferred to military use in a matter of months," he said.

Unfazed by two rounds of sanctions by the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran had brought the nations of the world "to their knees" by defying the sanctions.

"They expected the Iranian nation…to surrender after a resolution is issued or sanctions are imposed, but today…it has brought all big powers to their knees," Ahmadinejad told cheering supporters in southern Iran.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, The Associated Press

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