An exile Iranian group accused the government of Iran on Tuesday of carrying out secret research with the goal of developing its nuclear weapons even while it conducts negotiations that included possible constraints on its ability to do just that.
The group – the National Council for Resistance of Iran – announced that underground labs around suburban Tehran that have been in use since 2008 were being used to enrich uranium. The group said one plant, Lavizan-3 was named for the neighborhood were a number of the officers with their families live, is reached via tunnels that lead from under one building that is ostensibly in use to process identity cards and passports.
These claims were not able to be independently verified and officials in the U.S. would not comment.
Members of the opposition group, while at the National Press Club detailed their latest claims as John Kerry the Secretary of State testified before the U.S. Congress, defending the White House’s ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
Negotiators have a goal of broad outlines of a final agreement by the end of March, though a number of very complex technical issues would still need to be worked out prior to an interim agreement expiring in the latter part of June.
The opposition group told reporters that Iran lied about the nuclear program before and that there should not be any deal agreed to and signed until Tehran had agreed to a full inspection of the facility it called Lavizan-3.
For over a decade, many assertions have been made by the group about the nuclear program in Iran, with not all being proved accurate. Back in 2002, the group however exposed the existence of two plants that were nuclear related, one of which was in Natanz used for uranium enrichment and one near Arak, which was a heavy water reactor.
Previously, Tehran did not acknowledge either of the properties and that discovery fueled a large amount of distrust that is maintained until today.
These latest claims come during a sensitive period in the negotiations over the nuclear program in Iran.