Another day, another Iranian underground facility

posted at 1:15 pm on September 11, 2010 by J.E. Dyer

It’s been a big 48 hours.  An Iranian dissident group has provided new information about a suspect facility nestled in the mountains northwest of Tehran, near the city of Qazvin.  The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) says it has information from sources in Iran that the facility, referred to by authorities as “311,” is supervised by a Mr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, an individual who is under UN sanctions for his suspected work on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  PMOI describes it as an underground facility for uranium enrichment.  The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a long-time source of initial information on Iran’s nuclear programs, says the facility is run by Iran’s Ministry of Defense, and that construction on the underground facility in question began in 2005.  (Oddly, Washington Post didn’t report these particular details, although Haaretz did.)

The Western media note correctly that not all information from Iranian dissident groups has panned out, although it’s also fair to say that we can’t be sure exactly how much of their information has been accurate, because we haven’t had the access needed for decisive validation.  The original NCRI/PMOI intelligence on the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, for example – now declared, and subject to IAEA inspection – was demonstrated to be valid.  Other information, on underground facilities reportedly dug on the southern outskirts of Tehran, has not been proven, but substantial elements of it have not been disproven either.

Qazvin facility

The new information has a good chance of being valid, however.  Iran has had a military installation in Qazvin, and military-controlled facilities located in proximity to it, for years.  Qazvin was suspected since the late 1980s of hosting a dual-use chemical plant and chemical weapons facility.  (The chemical plant definitely existed and was run with a series of foreign partners, India being the last one.  The dual-use purpose of the plant – for weaponizable toxins as well as pesticides – was assessed by Western intelligence.)  A major earthquake in 2002 – in the aftermath of which the Revolutionary Guard reportedly rushed troops to the Qazvin site – put the chemical plant out of commission.

Iran has already indicated the intention to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, and of course was “called” last fall on the one being constructed in secret at the Qom Fordo site.  The Iranians have been allowed to handle IAEA inspections and compliance on a largely uncooperative basis – and they have pressed their advantage on that repeatedly.  Their pattern to date justifies urgent suspicion and investigation when any new information is advanced.

What’s troubling, therefore, is the very dismissive attitude with which US officials and subject-matter experts have addressed this report.  Of course US analysts have not missed the tunneling activity at Qazvin.  But the Defense Department’s position – “We’ve seen the tunneling, but we don’t have information that this is a nuclear-related facility” – is disingenuous.  Now you do have such information, guys.  Check it out – and don’t look sleepy and uninterested doing it.

The Institute for Science and International Security says no more than that, in its 9 September “analysis” of the PMOI report.  ISIS basically takes a few more words than the DOD spokesman did to say the same thing: knew about the tunneling, don’t know about a nuclear program connection.  Hey, not everything from PMOI pans out.  I respect ISIS’ efforts, and refer to them often, but in this case, the dismissive tone is unjustified.  To its credit, ISIS does argue for an IAEA inspection of the Qazvin site.

We will see if IAEA is pressed by Western governments to do anything about this information.  But if the lassitude of the US response is an indicator, I’m not holding my breath.  This is really inexcusable, however.  Iran does dig a lot.  Iran is not so wealthy and multifarious, however, that she could build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities and not be putting them in some of the underground installations we already know she’s digging out. It’s not just bad leadership to speak dismissively of this new report, it’s execrable analysis.  If Iran is going to expand her uranium enrichment capability, we should look first where she’s already tunneling.  That’s axiomatic.

If we knew for sure the Qazvin site wasn’t to be used for nuclear-related activities, the DOD spokesman would have said more than merely that we have no information.  He could easily have said, without getting specific, that US analysts have another assessment:  that we have reason to believe the PMOI report is wrong.  He didn’t say that, although there would have been good reason to give that assurance, and there’s none to withhold it.

However you slice it, this amounts to unjustifiable fecklessness.  When even our rhetoric is this disjointed and lackadaisical, Iran has little reason to take us seriously.  Whatever else it is, it’s not a good way to reassure Israel, and the Arabs who fear a nuclear-armed Iran, that we’re taking the problem seriously.

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comments

They’ve decided to let them go all the way. Our only recourse is providence. Buy some bulk food, winter’s coming.

abobo on September 11, 2010 at 1:22 PM

Help us, Bibi. You’re our only hope.

Disturb the Universe on September 11, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Don’t worry so much, peaceful civilian nuclear power facilities are always buried deep in the Earth and protected by armored brigades.

Bishop on September 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I guess the little iran worm could put a sign that says ‘baby milk factory’ over the site and all would be ok and we wouldn’t have to worry so much, would we?
L

letget on September 11, 2010 at 1:34 PM

It was so weird, Fox did a story on this new find and an “expert” said that Iran would probably release one of the hikers as a way to deflect the news and show good will. Sure enough they announced that they were going to release the female hiker. Than the changed their mind. Is it because of the lackluster reaction to the new site? I believe our government has decided we can live with a nuclear Iran. I hope the rumors of the Saudis and Israel teaming up are true.

Cindy Munford on September 11, 2010 at 1:43 PM

ISIS has been pretty solid about Iran.

If the group making the charge has more than a mixed record, or has anything to substantiate this charge, we’ll all be glad to see it.

BUT

The tone in the ISIS write-up isn’t dismissive, doggit, it’s skeptical.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be more than justified in asking to visit a range of tunnel facilities in Iran, perhaps including the one identified by the Iranian opposition group.

If Iran does not allow visits to underground sites or other suspect sites, the IAEA should call for a special inspection of these sites.

You trained to take single-source info, unsubstantiated, from a less-than-rock-solid source and give it full credit?

audiculous on September 11, 2010 at 1:54 PM

To be used only for an Iranian “peaceful war”, of course.

Get rid of Obowma and the democrat congress, grow a pair and destroy these Iranian sites ASAP.

Peace through strengh is ALL they know and understand. They want some missiles? Let’s give them some…preferably, from a B2 bomber bay.

dthorny on September 11, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Israel will hit them. And Lebanon. And probably Syria too. Who knows, maybe even Turkey will want a piece.

And by ‘hit’, I mean full out conventional warfare. Possibly even nuclear weapons. Israel has already stated that they made a mistake with the precision strikes in 2006 and that the next conflict will be pretty much a Dresden redux.

I don’t know when, but it will happen.

You-Eh-Vee on September 11, 2010 at 2:05 PM

The IAEA under Mohamed El Baradei was nothing but a sham and now it seems that Yukiya Amanu is just as ineffective. Iran needs centrifuges to be able to produce the nuclear material and they have to be coming from somewhere and it would have to be a lot and of good quality.

fourdeucer on September 11, 2010 at 2:18 PM

heck of a job Barry

donabernathy on September 11, 2010 at 2:19 PM

don’t worry… I’m sure this is Obama’s top..top priority. Just as soon as he handles up on a kooky preacher in Florida.

roflmao

donabernathy on September 11, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Israel has very good reason to treat Lebanon very differently in the next war. This time around, hezbulluh are a part of the Lebanese government and what distinction that used to exist between the Lebanese Army and hezbulluh has disappeared.

This time they do not need to carefully avoid Lebanese government targets. They need not limit their airstrikes to huzbulluh’s zone in South Beirut. The entire country is fair game, -if they start a war with Israel.

slickwillie2001 on September 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Yes, definitely let the Crazy Iranian Mullahs get hold of Nukes.

And by all means, don’t try to stop them militarily I mean come on, it might make them angry and you know the Israel hating Arabs in the Middle East have that most special of grievances against the Jewish since gosh King David when he setup Jebusalem as the Capital of Israel, heck like only 3,000 years ago.

Oh, and why don’t we also disarm as much as possible as to facilitate the long held dream of a Global Islamic Caliphate.

I mean Admininutjob hasn’t really threatened anyone has he?

Folks, gird your loins if Iran gets the Nuke weapons it wants it makes 9/11 look like childs’ play.

Good thing we’ve got the DOTUS in charge to keep us all safe.

PappyD61 on September 11, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Israel will hit them. And Lebanon. And probably Syria too. Who knows, maybe even Turkey will want a piece.

And by ‘hit’, I mean full out conventional warfare. Possibly even nuclear weapons. Israel has already stated that they made a mistake with the precision strikes in 2006 and that the next conflict will be pretty much a Dresden redux.

I don’t know when, but it will happen.

You-Eh-Vee on September 11, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Damascus will be completely destroyed,
Isaiah 17:1

Don’t doubt the Pappy.

PappyD61 on September 11, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Say! Didn’t Mahmoud Ahmadinejad go to high school about the same time as Rush Limbaugh?????

alwyr on September 11, 2010 at 2:47 PM

As I already stated elsewhere… The terms of surrender are being played out before our eyes…

RalphyBoy on September 11, 2010 at 4:49 PM

RalphyBoy

the Iranians aren’t in a good spot, but too early to think that they’re surrendering. they’ll play out the string.

audiculous on September 11, 2010 at 7:26 PM

The leftist/MFM position seems to be, “Oh, well, they are in underground bunkers, can’t be touched!” But that’s just hooey. It doesn’t even take bunker-buster bombs – because you don’t have to destroy the bunker itself. Just collapse the tunnels so they can’t get in or out, and inform them if they clear them, we’ll be back.
`
`
Or, rather, that Israel will be back, since we can hardly expect the spineless weasel in the White House to do more than bow to the Caliph and kiss some arse.

Adjoran on September 11, 2010 at 8:43 PM

However you slice it, this amounts to unjustifiable fecklessness. When even our rhetoric is this disjointed and lackadaisical, Iran has little reason to take us seriously. Whatever else it is, it’s not a good way to reassure Israel, and the Arabs who fear a nuclear-armed Iran, that we’re taking the problem seriously.
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Tunneling,hollowing out,and building inside a mountian,
kinda like Cheyenne Mountian Complex,makes me wonder about
their motives!!

Me thinks,its similar to Terminators Judgement Day,
er,Dhimmi Vapourization Sterilization Day that they
are busy planning!!

canopfor on September 11, 2010 at 9:09 PM

I’m betting we get a nuke or two at the same time Isreal gets hit. Glad I don’t live in a big city.

boomer on September 12, 2010 at 10:24 AM