Mossad sees Iran's Bushehr nuke plant operational within 14 months

Geo-Strategy Direct

November 27, 2003

Israel has assessed that Russia will complete the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran over the next year.

The Israeli assessment disputes assertions by Russian officials that the Bushehr nuclear reactor would be delayed until as late as 2006. Mossad Director Meir Dagan briefed the Israeli Cabinet on Iran's nuclear program. The Nov. 23 briefing included Israeli assessments as to when Iran would achieve milestones in its nuclear program.

Mossad is the lead agency in monitoring and drafting options for foiling Iran's nuclear program. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has pledged to personally oversee Israel's intelligence efforts on Iran's nuclear program.

In his briefing, Dagan said the Bushehr nuclear reactor would be operational over the next 14 months. This could mean that Iran would begin operating Bushehr by the end of 2004, he said.

The Mossad director also said Iran was completing a uranium-enriching plant in Kashan. Such a facility, he said, would have the capacity to produce 10 atomic bombs annually ....

Dagan was said to have asserted that Iran plans to achieve nuclear capability in the summer of 2004 ....

Report: Iran took IAEA to decoy nuke sites

Iran has reportedly fooled international nuclear inspectors by taking them to decoy sites.

Iranian opposition sources said Teheran took International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to a decoy site to ensure that they would miss a secret nuclear facility. The decoy site was established in an area identified by the IAEA as containing suspected nuclear activities, the sources said.

The site is located in Hashtgerd. It is similar to a real suspected nuclear facility, located near the city of Karaj.

"Information from within the clerical regime made it clear that they had been taken to a site similar to the site in question and they were not shown the actual site," Firouz Mahvi, a member of the foreign relations committee of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran told a news conference in Vienna on Nov. 19.

The Iranian opposition said it has obtained information that Teheran had consistently lied or misled the IAEA. This is in contrast to an IAEA assertion that the Iranian government was cooperating in reporting Teheran's nuclear activities.

"They want to buy time and cooperate as much as possible to get to the point of no return," Mahvi said.

The Iranian opposition figure said the point of no return is when Iran is self-sufficient in achieving nuclear capability. Mahvi said such a point could be reached as early as the first quarter of 2004.

The Iranian opposition council has been accurate in its previous reports on Teheran's nuclear program. In 2002, the council reported on the existence of two Iranian secret nuclear facilities —— that of Arak and Natanz.

Meanwhile, The International Atomic Energy Agency has approved a new arrangement that would result in more intrusive inspections of Iran's suspected nuclear facilities.

The IAEA approved an Iranian agreement to sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The protocol would enable rapid and intrusive IAEA inspections of undeclared Iranian facilities.

The agency said the board of governors approved the agreement for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) protocol. Iran is expected to sign the Additional Protocol over the next few weeks.

The Additional Protocol was drafted about 10 years ago in response to the failure to find nuclear weapons activity in Iraq. The protocol allows the IAEA, rather than the host state, to determine what facilities are to be inspected.

"They are acting as if the protocol were in force," IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei said in Vienna on Nov. 20.

The IAEA assertion came as the agency's 35-nation board of governors met to consider measures against Iran for a 15-year effort to conceal its uranium enrichment program. The United States said Iran's policy violated the NPT, but the agency has not decided on penalties.

"The bad news is that there have been failures and breaches," El Baradei said. "These breaches and failures are, of themselves, a matter of deep concern, and run counter to both the letter and the spirit of safeguards agreements."