Iran has conducted several high-explosive tests on detonators designed for its nuclear weapons program, according to a former officer of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards.
The officer witnessed the detonator tests in the fall of 2007 at the regime’s clandestine TABA Complex (also known as the Tehran Complex), located northwest of Tehran, where centrifuge parts are produced. The source, who cannot be named for security purposes and who is now in asylum in Italy, provided information on the TABA facility and other nuclear activities to the U.S. Embassy in an undisclosed country.
The source said the tests were conducted in five rectangular chambers, one large and four smaller, with the big container approximately 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and over 10 feet high with a single door in front and another door inside. The big chamber was used for the tests, one small chamber was set up close to the big one for adjustment and leveling, and officials were in the other small chambers.
The chambers were transported at night by heavy trucks to the test site. The tests were witnessed by Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of the armed forces, Mostafa Najjar, the defense minister at the time, Gen. Mahmoud Mohammadi, the head of security, and others, and were deemed successful.
Following the tests, according to the source, the facility was shut down for several days so traces of the tests could be cleaned up. Several times thereafter, a special team tested the area for any sign of nuclear contamination.
The source added that a year earlier, in the summer of 2006, 12 barrels of highly enriched uranium were transferred to the TABA Complex and hidden in an underground facility that runs parallel below three buildings. The area was then sealed, the source concluded, because of an upcoming inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Testing material was transferred back to its original site 17 days later.
Around this time, a regime directive ordered all nuclear work to be transferred to military sites due to their immunity to inspections, the source said.
The regime — after an inquiry by the IAEA into its Parchin military site, suspected as a location for conducting high-explosive nuclear weapons tests — produced steel chambers so it could conduct additional nuclear detonator tests at various locations.
In November 2011, an IAEA report on Iran said it had evidence through member states that Iran had constructed a large explosives chamber in which it had carried out high-explosive tests consistent with the development of nuclear weapons.
Iran denied the allegation, calling it “American lies,” and refused to allow the IAEA to inspect the facility. In a report in 2012, the Institute for Science and International Security identified the location of the test chamber at Parchin through satellite imagery. Other satellite imagery later provided proof that the Islamic regime had engaged in cleaning the area by demolishing some buildings, moving earth and other activities as recently as a few weeks ago to get rid of any incriminating evidence of work related to nuclear weapons.
IAEA officials, who have for years demanded access to the Parchin site, met again with their Iranian counterparts last week in Tehran to discuss information about the detonators and needed collaboration by the regime to clear outstanding issues on its nuclear program.
Last November, Iran and the P5+1 world powers agreed to work on a draft to limit the country’s nuclear activity and address any concerns of a possible military nuclear dimension in exchange for removal of sanctions. Iran also agreed with the IAEA to take seven transparency steps by May 15 to allow further inspection of suspected sites and to provide information on other concerns about its nuclear program.
The regime has yet to abide by that agreement but in a 180-degree turn after years of denial, it provided the IAEA in late April — as well as last week — information that the suspected high-explosives tests at Parchin did indeed take place.
The IAEA’s recent quarterly report on Iran, as seen by Agence France-Presse, indicates the country provided “information and explanations, including showing documents, to substantiate its stated need and application of EBW (Explosive Bridge Wire detonators).” Iran has claimed the detonator tests had a civilian application.
The source stated that the detonation tests at the TABA facility took place years after the tests at Parchin and that the regime is conducting its nuclear weapons tests at several sites unknown to the IAEA. He said regime scientists are in close collaboration with North Korean and Pakistani scientists, and that he personally saw North Korean scientists at one site.
In a speech to the members of the regime’s Parliament on Sunday, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that the regime needs to arm itself and that without a combative mindset, the regime cannot reach its higher Islamic role, which includes destroying America.
Khamenei called those who want to negotiate over and surrender the regime’s nuclear program “traitors” and said that “Battle and jihad are endless … and this battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front, with America at the head of it.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).