Two names were bandied in the murmured behind-the-scenes discussion at the International Atomic Energy Agency, when its board met in emergency session in Vienna this week. One was Dr. Oili Heinonen, Deputy Director General of the agency, and the second was a top-secret Iranian nuclear facility called Lavizhan 2.
The two are connected, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly reveals.
Dr. Heinonen is responsible for verifying that nuclear material placed under safeguards is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and that there is no undeclared nuclear material or activities in non-nuclear weapons states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Lavizhan 2 is situated east of Tehran near the Malek-a-Shtar University campus.
According to our nuclear experts, US intelligence believes it was – and may still be – the site for turning out nuclear weapon components for bombs or missile warheads.
A third name also current in the Vienna conference hall is that of the Alburz Mountains, in the Moahlem-k-Alayem province east of Tehran, because deep inside that range, contractors hired by the Revolutionary Guards Corps are digging a giant tunnel, named Hormuz, for the concealment and use of Iran’s stock of advanced P2 centrifuges. Once they are stored there, the bunker will become Iran’s main uranium enrichment center.
Tehran was alert to its peril when the foreign ministers of the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany gathered in London Sunday and agreed for the first time to ask the UN nuclear watchdog to report Iran’s nuclear case to the world body. It was then the Iranians made a gesture, one of its typical maneuvers, in the hope of deflecting the blow; it announced for the first time that inspectors would be allowed to visit Lavizhan 2. Their condition was: no referral to the Security Council.
Still no ironclad proof of bomb-making
Our sources reveal that the IAEA director Dr. Muhammad ElBaradei decided there and then to call Tehran’s bluff and send his deputy Dr.Heinonen, who is known for being tough on the Iran’s nuclear program, to check out the offer.
ElBaradei calculated that if it was on the level and Tehran allowed the visit to take place within days, Washington might be persuaded to opt for the inspection as a chance to catch the Iranians red-handed and prove once and for all that they are building a weapon. This might be worth postponing the report to the Security Council.
Circles of the IAEA and US intelligence assume that, even if the Iranians cheat and remove incriminating equipment and materials from the site, radioactivity and other ineradicable clues will remain to give the game away. There will then be ironclad proof of Iranian’s illegal activity.
There was a similar instance in 2004, when Lavizan Shian was opened to watchdog inspections. At that site, the Iranians went to vast lengths to clean up the site and leave no trace of its use. They even planted over its surface a large amusement park with grass and trees. They also brought to the site a highly sophisticated instrument for detecting radioactivity on the bodies of people and small animals, to make sure the inspectors found no sample traces of the work performed there. The samples they collected did carry some radioactivity but not enough to prove anything.
American intelligence takes if for granted that, to avoid being reported to the Security Council, the ayatollahs are playing the same trick at Lavizhan 2 – removing the entire plant to another place, possibly the Hormuz bunker, and scouring the site clean of any incriminating traces.
Dr. Heinonen was due to report on the outcome of his trip to Iran to the IAEA board session in Vienna due to end Friday, Feb. 3. Whatever his findings, the Iranians will continue to try and play the Lavizhan 2 card again and again to win delays as the long haggling still ahead proceeds on their nuclear program.