BRUSSELS, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Iran is "95 percent" on its way toward creating a nuclear bomb and could have its hands on missiles capable of reaching Western Europe within two years, one of the country's leading opposition movements said Thursday.
At a news conference in Brussels, the National Council of Resistance of Iran released new information about a heavy water plant and 40 megawatt reactor in Arak, 150 miles south of the capital Tehran. The political wing of the People's Mujahideen, a guerilla movement listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, also accused Iran's rulers of attempting to smuggle nuclear material into the Islamic republic.
Under an agreement with Britain, France and Germany last year, Iran pledged to freeze work on its nuclear fuel processing program until a comprehensive trade agreement was reached with the European Union. Earlier this month, the so-called EU-3 offered new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a steady supply of nuclear technologies and fuels if Tehran agreed to permanently halt its nuclear activities. However, the conservative hard-liner rejected the package and the country resumed its attempts to enrich uranium at the Isfahan plant on Aug. 8.
"While the international community has been focused on stopping the clerical regime's fuel cycle involving uranium enrichment, Tehran has been working at full speed to obtain a heavy water reactor in Arak and plutonium as the main element for a nuclear bomb," said Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI's foreign affairs committee.
Arak was not included in the November 2004 deal with the EU-3 and has not been subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iranian government officials told the Vienna-based body the plant would not be ready until 2014, but the NCRI says this is a "sheer lie" and that Arak was on course to produce 31 pounds of plutonium by 2007 -- enough to make one or two nuclear bombs.
The opposition grouping, which is engaged in a fierce lobbying campaign to get the Mujahideen removed from EU and U.S. blacklists, also revealed details of Tehran's attempts to get its hands on tritium -- a substance that greatly increases the explosive power of a bomb. The IAEA has barred Iran from obtaining the material, but the NCRI claims the clerical regime has set up a front company to smuggle it in from South Korea.
The NCRI has revealed 15 nuclear sites in Iran since 2000 and information gathered by its high-placed "moles" within the regime has been used by intelligence services in Europe and the United States. However, the group's latest allegations appear to be flatly contradicted by a recent IAEA report which found that traces of highly enriched uranium found on centrifuge parts had entered the country on imported equipment from Pakistan and did not result from Iranian enrichment activities.
Safavi accused the IAEA of failing to follow up on nuclear intelligence tip-offs provided by the grouping. He also slammed the EU for trying to do a deal with the mullahs in Tehran and for labeling the Mujahideen a terrorist organization.
"If we want to prevent the world's most dangerous terror sponsor from acquiring the world's most dangerous weapon, we must abandon the policy of appeasement in its totality."
Safavi said that since Ahmadinejad was elected in late June, there had been 30 hangings and 25 people -- including seven minors -- sentenced to death in Iran. "This shows how effective the EU's human rights dialogue has been," he told United Press International.
The NCRI representative also catalogued Tehran's involvement in the ongoing insurgency in Iraq, claiming the hard-line government had spent over $5 billion funding guerillas in the U.S. occupied neighboring state and had 11,000 Iraqi insurgents on its payroll.
The Paris-based opposition grouping wants Iran referred to the United Nations Security Council for breaching IAEA rules. However, it is against any military intervention in the oil-rich republic. "The choice is not between war and appeasement," said Safavi. "There is a third option, which is democratic change by Iranian people themselves."