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Iran Regime’s New Nuclear Bomb-Making Facility Revealed

A new center and continued activities of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND)

October 16, 2020

New Revelation

New information received from sources within the Iranian regime reveals that a new center has been built to continue its work for weaponization of the Iranian regime’s nuclear program. Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (Sazman-e Pazhouheshhaye Novin-e Defa’i), known by its Persian acronym SPND, is the institution within the Ministry of Defense pursuing this project.[1] The Ministry of Defense is heavily controlled by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Continued activities of SPND

According to top secret intelligence obtained by the network inside Iran of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI/MEK) from within the regime, SPND has continued its work following the JCPOA. The structure and the personnel of SPND remain intact and part of the institution has been expanded. Brig. Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi remains the head of SPND. [2]

From left: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, head of SPND; former Defense Minister, Mohammad Najjar; former Defense Minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, the head of National Defense University’s Research Institute; and Brig. Gen. Na’man Gholami, acting commander of the Paramilitary Bassij. (January 5, 2019)

Thus, the JCOPA notwithstanding, the Ministry of Defense and the IRGC have maintained their capabilities to build nuclear weapons. (In April 2017 the NCRI-US Office revealed the continuation of such activities in a center known as Research Academy in the Parchin complex, southeast of Tehran)[3]

Coordination of the new location of SPND in Sorkheh-Hessar

SPND has built a new site in Sorkheh-Hessar region, east Tehran. The exact location of the new site is on Damavand Highway, east of Tehran, two kilometers into the exit road to Sorkheh-Hessar. At the entrance of this road, there is a checkpoint as it is considered to be a military area.

The location of this new site is north of Khojir site, which is the largest complex manufacturing ballistic missiles for the Hemmat Missile Industry and Bakeri Missile Industry.[4]

To the north of this new site (north of Damavand Road), command headquarters of the Aerospace Organization of Ministry of Defense and the Mechanical Industries of the Aerospace Organization (known as Mahallati Industries) are located in Hakimiyeh area.

General area of Tehran with Sorkheh-Hessar site

As such, Tehran has built its new site for SPND in the area of the complexes involved in building missiles, which would also provide a safe cover for its nuclear activities.

The new SPND site shown with a circle; to the south is Khojir site and to the north is the headquarters of Aerospace Organization and Mahallati site.

The construction project of the new site in Sorkheh-Hessar started in 2012 and its construction took several years. Around 2017, some sections of various groups of SPND, including the geophysics, known as the Chamran Group gradually moved in, as the construction of other sections of the site were later completed. By transferring parts of SPND, the activities of its different sections have expanded. By being located in a military area, it has found an appropriate cover to keep commutes by, and the identities of, the personnel working there a secret.

Location of new site of SPND for Chamran Group in Sorkheh-Hessar, east of Tehran
Satellite imagery of the location of new site of SPND for Chamran Group in Sorkheh-Hessar, east of Tehran
Checkpoint entrance to the building of SPND’s Sorkheh-Hessar site
May 2012 early stages of the construction of the site (above and below)
2013 progression of the construction of the site (above and below)

More on the activities of the Geophysics Group of SPND

Head of the Geophysics Group is Dr. Mohammad Javad Zaker. He is also a lecturer at the Beheshti University. His deputy is Hamed Aber, a geophysics expert.

Geophysics Group of the SPND works on projects related to underground nuclear tests such as discovery of underground tunnel and registration of the impact of explosion with seismometer devices. Some of the equipment used by this group are Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), CG-5 gravity meter, etc. 

They have imported their equipment by circumventing sanction. On occasions, they have purchased the banned goods under the name of another country and then redirected them to Iran.[5]

The new SPND site, Sorkheh-Hessar shown with a circle. To the south is Hemmat site in Khojir area and the old location of the facility at Mojdeh site is also shown.

The original location of the Geophysics Group was in Mojdeh Site, on the ground floor of a two-story building.[6] On this floor some of the vacuum equipment and other electronic and drone devices were kept. 

The old location of Chamran Group at Mojdeh site.

Some of the staff in the Electronics Group worked on the upper floor of the building. A number of equipment were installed in the basement to where there was also a good’s elevator.

Geophysics Group involved in tests to build nuclear weapons

Chamran Geophysics Group has been working on tests for preliminary explosions to build nuclear weapons and record its results by seismometers. Parts of the tests were conducted in the year 2000 in a location near the IRGC’s missile site south of Semnan. To this end, the regime has drilled 400-meter deep wells in which it has tested TNT explosives, anywhere from one to four tons. Seismometers in different cities have recorded the explosions. These explosions were part of the AMAD plan (SPND’s previous name), which was working on building nuclear weapons.[7]

According to revelations made by the Iranian Resistance in June 2017, SPND is using an IRGC missile site in south of Semnan to test its explosives.[8] SPND has access to a sprawling fenced area to test explosives in that region.

Illicit purchase of seismometers for nuclear tests

The IRGC and the Defense Ministry have engaged in the secret and illicit purchase of military-grade sensitive seismometers from the Russian Federation.[9]

Tests related to discovery of underground tunnel

One of the projects assigned to the Chamran Group by the IRGC was to work on the ways of discovering underground tunnels in the war in Syria and as such some of the IRGC’s experts in Syria are connected to the Geophysics Group.

One of the locations used by the Geophysics Group for testing tunnel discovery is situated in Maysami Complex, where IRGC has dug a number of underground tunnels.

Maysami Complex belongs to IRGC Special Industry for manufacturing material and chemical weapons. SPND uses this place. More specifically the SPND’s Chemical Group has very active relation with the Maysami Complex.

Maysami Complex is situation 27 kilometer into the special highway to Karaj, opposite steel parts factory. (This complex had previously been exposed by the Iranian Resistance)

Information on the nuclear site north of the town of Abadeh

According to information received from within the Iranian regime, since mid-1990s, the IRGC has gained the control of a large area north of the town of Abadeh where it has built a site linked to the plan to build nuclear warheads, known as AMAD plan (currently SPND). To this end, the IRGC took control over a vast area of the land, including some stone mines.

SPND’s Marivan site near Abadeh in Isfahan Province

The site was built under the supervision of Admiral Ali Shamkhani, at the time, the Minister of Defense and Logistics under Mohammad Khatami. The project was handled by companies working with the IRGC’s Khatam-al-Anbiya Garrison’s Engineering Department. An IRGC engineer, with the last name Hashemi Tabar, who is in charge of IRGC’s secret projects and has been involved in the construction of IRGC’s tunnels and secret sites, handled this project.

Based on reports, companies affiliated with the IRGC build large concrete locations, to be used for high explosive tests. Locals are prohibited from entering this region, which is cordoned off with barbed wired fences.

Marivan site near Abadeh controlled by IRGC

The northern perimeter of this region reaches a highway from Shurestan village toward an area called 15th Khordad in the northeast. After passing through a mountainous terrain, the highway ends in a fork, where the southern branch goes toward the south where the stone mines and the nuclear site is located. This part of the highway is blocked and is considered an IRGC location.

The general area controlled by the IRGC around the Marivan nuclear site in Abadeh area

The eastern part of this region is also under the control of the IRGC and is separated by a series of mountains, between the main highway to Abadeh and Shahreza.

This site is linked with the activities of the “Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ),” which is a subsidiary of SPND (previously AMAD), which is involved in the building of nuclear weapons.

One of the key METFAZ experts is Saeed Borji, who worked with the Ukrainian nuclear scientist Vyacheslav V. Danilenko, on high explosive testing and also on the explosive chamber for nuclear weapons in Parchin. Borji’s name was first revealed by the Iranian Resistance in February 2008.

According to SPND’s internal reporting, Saeed Borji and two other SPND experts, Khodadad Meihami and Hossein Ghafouri, worked on a project related to METFAZ in 2011. The location of the project in SPND’s internal reports is named Ahmad-Abad. In view of new documents about nuclear activities of the regime, Ahamd-Abad is most likely the Abadeh site.

Mirtajedini, an expert from the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University was in charge of planning this project.

The high explosive tests related to nuclear weapons were carried out in 2003 in this site under a project named Marivan.

After the IRGC became aware that this site had been revealed, it suddenly destroyed all the facilities on the location in July 2019, because those facilities could have proven that tests related to nuclear weapons were conducted.[10]

Satellite imagery in June 2019 shows that the facilities existed at the site, but they were razed to the ground completely by the IRGC. After a year following the demolition of the site, the regime allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to it on August 26, 2020. In this way, once again the regime tried to eliminate the traces of nuclear weapons activities in July 2019, which shows the continuation of secret military nuclear activities.

Conclusion:

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has stated time and again, including on November 24, 2013 immediately following the initial agreement of P5+1 with the clerical regime, that if the world powers had acted steadfastly, without economic and political considerations, they could have totally contained the regime’s bomb-making apparatus in that round of negotiations. She had warned: Total implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular total halt of enrichment, accepting the Additional Protocol, and free and unhindered access of the IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities, are necessary in order for the regime to give up its drive to acquire nuclear weapons. She reiterated her call also on July 14, 2015, hours after the JCPOA was agreed upon.

The Iranian nuclear program from the onset was designed to acquire nuclear weapons and not produce nuclear energy.

After the revelation of major nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak by the National Council of Resistance of Iran in August 2002, the appeasement policy of the Western countries, allowed the regime to accelerate its drive to acquire nuclear weapons, even while they were negotiating with Europe. Hassan Rouhani, the current President, who was the chief nuclear negotiator at the time, acknowledged that he deceived Europeans, in a book he wrote some years later.

The nuclear agreement (JCPOA) in 2015 overlooked some of the most undeniable aspects of the possible military dimensions of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program. No wonder that the regime took no step toward destroying its infrastructure in this regard.

Our revelation today once again proves the fact that the JCPOA did not prevent the mullahs’ activities to acquire nuclear weapons and even the regime has reneged on its commitments stipulated in the JCPOA. These activities have been since the JCPOA was agreed upon in 2015 and even prior to the U.S. leaving the Iran nuclear deal.

The reality is that obtaining nuclear weapons is part and parcel of the mullahs’ strategy for survival. As the popular dissent is growing in Iran, demonstrated clearly during the nationwide uprising in November 2019, and with the change of balance of power in the region to the mullahs’ detriment, the mullahs need to obtain the bomb more than ever before.

It is naïve to think that by providing concessions or overlooking its violations, the regime, will change its behavior. This has not happened and will never happen. A leopard never changes spots.

There is no doubt that re-imposing the six UN Security Council resolutions is a necessary and indispensable step toward preventing the regime from acquiring the Bomb. The ultimate solution though, is regime change by the people and the organized resistance.


[1] The National Council of Resistance of Iran first revealed the existence of SPND in July 2011 in Washington, DC. (Opposition: Iran consolidates nuclear bomb effort, USA Today, July 23, 2011; https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-07-23-iran-nuclear-program_n.htm#mainstory). Three years later, SPND was designated by the U.S. Department of State on August 29, 2014, under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382. (Additional Sanctions Imposed by the Department of State Targeting Iranian Proliferators, Department of State, August 29, 2014; https://2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/231159.htm)

[2] Brigadier General Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, also known as Dr. Hassan Mohseni, is a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the main figure for the regime’s nuclear weapons development program. He attended the third North Korean nuclear test in February 2013 as an observer. Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has on multiple occasions requested an interview with him, the Iranian regime has refused. Due to his involvement in the regime’s nuclear weapons program, his name was listed among other sanctions individuals on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1747 in March 2007.

[3] Revelations about Parchin Research Academy, the new main location for “Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ)”, NCRI-US Press Conference, April 21, 2017; https://www.ncrius.org/revelations-status-iran-regimes-nuclear-bomb-making-apparatus.html

[4] Khojir site is located in eastern Tehran near Jajroud River. There are two missile industry complexes within this site: Hemmat and Bakeri. These are the main locations for the manufacturing of the regime’s ballistic missiles. Both of these industrial complexes include several factories and manufacturing units, which are located in tunnels and underground facilities.

[5] One of the countries used is Kuwait which might be due to the presence of Shiite businessmen with Iranian origin in that country who have good relation with the regime.

[6] The Mojdeh Site (Lavizan 2): After the Shian Lavizan site, which was the previous location for the regime’s nuclear activities, was exposed by the Iranian Resistance in May 2003, the regime was forced to completely raze the site and transfer some of the equipment and activities to the Mojdeh site (Mojdeh Avenue located in northeastern Tehran). The Mojdeh site was previously a part of the regime’s ammunition industries and was acquired by the Defense Ministry and assigned to the regime’s military-nuclear activities.

[7] Project Midan: Developing and Building an Underground Nuclear Test Site in Iran, by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Olli Heinonen, Frank Pabian, and Andrea Stricker, April 2, 2019; https://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/project-midan-developing-and-building-an-underground-nuclear-test-site-in-i/8

[8] NCRI-US Presents New Details about Iran’s Regime Missile Program, NCRI-US Press Conference, June 20, 2017; https://www.ncrius.org/ncri-us-presents-new-details-about-irans-regime-missile-program.html

[9] In their reports about the Iranian regime’s violations of the sanctions, European countries have reported the illicit purchase of seismometers by the regime.

[10] Abadeh is Marivan: A Key Iranian Former Secret Nuclear Weapons Development Test Site, by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian, August 28, 2020; https://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/abadeh-is-marivan-irans-former-secret-nuclear-weapons-development-test-site

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