Exiled Iranian Says Nation Hides Materials
By BARRY SCHWEID
WASHINGTON (AP) - An Iranian exile who opposes his country's Islamic government said Monday that Iran's military is building a series of secret tunnels to hide equipment for missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, who helped expose nuclear facilities in Iran in the past, told a news conference in September that tunnels were under construction mainly in an area called Parchin.
But on Monday he said the secret construction of missiles extends well beyond that location. He said that on orders of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the Iranian defense ministry has taken over an area in eastern and southern regions of Tehran.
North Korean experts have cooperated with Iran in the design and building of the complex, producing blueprints, for instance, the dissident said.
A leading Iranian aerospace group, Hemmat Industries, is located in the area and is building three versions of Shahab and Ghadar missiles, Jafarzadeh said.
The Shahab 3 has a range of 1,300 to 1,900 kilometers and Ghadar, still in the production stage, 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers, he said.
Some of the tunnels are located in Kahk Sefid Mountain, he said, pointing to a map.
In an interview, Jafarzadeh said the most significant development was that Iran was concentrating its work on missiles and nuclear warheads all together in tunnels underground in the Tehran area.
"I think the United States should be doubly worried about this because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sped up its nuclear weapons program and the revolutionary guards are now dominating all three branches of power - executive, legal and judicial," Jafarzadeh said.
"It's a nightmare," he said.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack agreed that Iran has a covert nuclear program. "It's hidden from sight and it's hidden through a variety of means," he said.