Whether that observation is accurate or not we may never know because we have very limited ability to collect human intelligence inside the Iranian regime. What we do know -- because those in the regime have announced it themselves -- is that Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi, the new head of their nuclear program, is in the process of installing the "next generation" of advanced centrifuges at the deep-underground Fordow uranium refinement facility, run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Qom.
According to Iranian government websites, Abbasi, a nuclear physicist, has been a member of the IRGC since 1979, the year Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became Iran's supreme leader. On Nov. 29 last year, Abbasi narrowly avoided assassination when a motorcyclist planted a magnetic bomb on the door of his car. In a nearly simultaneous attack, a similar device succeeded in killing one of his fellow nuclear weapons developers. And July 23, another of Abbasi's colleagues, Darioush Rezaeinejad -- identified as "an expert on electronic switching research," an essential component in all nuclear weapons -- was killed near Tehran University by gunmen on a motorcycle. Iranian officials blame U.S. and Israeli intelligence agents for these attacks, as they did when the "Stuxnet" worm temporarily disabled computers running IRGC nuclear research programs last July.
Neither U.S. nor Israeli intelligence officials will confirm or deny involvement in these events. But they both acknowledge, on background, "This is all part of a forgotten war being fought in the shadows against our nations' greatest enemy. But direct action events such as these will, at best, slow Iranian nuclear weapons deployment, not stop it." That will come only with regime change in Tehran.
Thus far, support for real transformation in Tehran appears beyond the capacity of the constantly inconsistent Obama administration. After dithering for weeks, the president eventually got around to demanding that Hosni Mubarak surrender power in Cairo. Since then, he has ineffectively insisted that Moammar Gadhafi leave Tripoli. His call for Bashar Assad to step down in Damascus has been ignored. And now he refuses to issue an executive order barring any company that does business in Iran from doing business in the United States.
Such a measure could well be the catalyst to bring about regime change in Tehran. It certainly would be more effective than toothless U.N. sanctions. And it might well serve to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from making the next war against a unilaterally disarmed America and our ally Israel truly unforgettable.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.