Satellite image of site alleged to be a previously undisclosed nuclear facility in Iran. (Courtesy DigitalGlobe and Globalsecurity.org).
An Iranian dissident group said on Thursday that it has identified a previously undisclosed nuclear facility under construction northwest of Tehran, claiming to have evidence that shows the Islamic nation is deceiving inspectors and moving forward in its pursuit of a bomb.
...The information was presented by the People's Mujaheddin Organization of Iran, a group that has been on the mark in the past in exposing Iranian nuclear activities, including the identification in 2002 of a large centrifuge installation at Natanz.
But U.S. officials have greeted some of the organization's other claims with skepticism, and note that it has for years been on a State Department list of designated terrorist organizations.
"This facility has been under construction for years, and we've known about it for years. While there's still some ambiguity about its ultimate purpose - not unusual for something that's still taking shape - there's no reason at this point to think it's nuclear," a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The Iranians put military stuff in tunnels, too. People should be cautious about reaching conclusions here."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed late last year that Tehran would build 10 new sites to enrich uranium. No evidence has surfaced yet to indicated that any of those facilities have been built.
...Noting that Iran had told the IAEA last year that there were no other nuclear facilities under construction, another group spokesman, Alireza Jafarzadeh, said, "Iranian officials were lying through their teeth."
Still, experts expressed skepticism about the new allegations.
"We saw nothing in the images that suggests a centrifuge plant," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security. "There are many underground facilities in Iran."
The Mujaheddin group aims to overthrow of the government in Tehran, and has lobbied to have the State Department terrorist label removed...