Raymond Tanter

In December 2005, NCRI intelligence revealed a nuclear site near the city of Qum. Tunneling in the mountains was initiated in 2000 to construct an underground nuclear facility; the Western allies publicly acknowledged the Qum site in September 2009. Prompted by such publicity, Tehran also admitted in September to the existence of a uranium enrichment facility about 20 miles north of Qum.

In January 2012, Iran stated it had begun enrichment at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. An IAEA report of August 2012 focuses on Fordow and Parchin. An ISIS report of September 2004 suggested Parchin was a suspect nuclear site, which complements revelations of the NCRI a year later, based its human sources on the ground.

There were about 3,000 centrifuges at Fordow, according to a revelation by the NCRI in July 2013. It also exposed new construction of tunnels, halls and working areas for secret nuclear enrichment in Damavand area, near Tehran by the Omran Institute—the entity that handled the Fordow enrichment site.

And the NCRI revealed on November 18, 2013 a military industrial complex near the city of Isfahan, which the ISIS had described in September 2004 as a site for manufacturing centrifuge machines for enrichment. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, The NCRI revelation held that it might be a suspect site for weaponization because it was being run by a unit that deals with weapons activity.

Smoking guns raise the question of “After Detection, What?” One such issue is imposing sanctions in the event of evasion. On December 3, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies stated that in spite of a strong congressional push to levy new sanctions on Iran if it reneges on the tentative deal or fails to strike a final bargain, it is increasingly unlikely the Hill will act in 2013.

During early 2014, it is also important to expand sanctions targeting Iran’s human rights violations. Given its revelations, NCRI members are under siege in Camp Liberty Iraq on behalf of Iran. In addition to preserving the NCRI as a source of intelligence, their human rights need to be protected, especially as International Human Rights Day approaches on December 10.

President Obama and the First Lady visited hunger strikers near Capitol Hill to discuss stalled immigration overhaul. They might also visit hunger strikers camped near the White House to bring attention to human rights for Iranians trapped in Iraq, signaling to Tehran that both its nuclear and human rights violations are at issue.


Raymond Tanter

Raymond Tanter served on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. His latest book is "Arab Rebels and Iranian Dissidents."