Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran
Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern IranIIPA via Getty Images

A week ago, Mojtaba Zonnour, the former chairman of Iran’s Nuclear Subcommittee and current chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian parliament, threatened to destroy Israel within “half an hour” in case the United States would dare to attack Iran.

"If the US attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel's lifespan,” Zonnour stated while threatening US bases in the Middle East with Iran’s ballistic missiles.

Zonnour made his statement a couple of days after Yossi Cohen, the head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, said Iran was lying about its current nuclear program.

Iranian claims that its uranium enrichment program was for medical purposes only are “flat-out lies” according to Cohen who added that “only clear determination to stop it from getting a nuclear weapon can stop it (Iran).”

Zonnour’s threat to Israel could only be interpreted in one way: Iran apparently still has a secret nuclear program or even already possesses a nuclear weapon.

Only a nuclear weapon could destroy the Jewish state within half an hour.

When we take this in account and then take a look at news reports which were published last week a different picture emerges about Iran’s so-called peaceful nuclear program.

The Iranian nuclear program was supposed to be largely frozen under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal between Iran and five world powers.

At the beginning of last week, however, Iran announced it would increase the level of uranium enrichment from 3.67 percent to 5 percent a move which constituted a breach of the JCPOA but wouldn’t move the Islamic Republic much closer to the production of a nuclear bomb.

A level of twenty percent uranium enrichment would substantially shorten the break-out time toward a nuclear weapon, however, and this is what Iranian officials are currently contemplating according to the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington DC (so-called ‘good ISIS’).

The American think tank, which includes former inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), came to the conclusion that the Iranians are bolstering their capabilities to produce weapon-grade uranium at the heavily fortified underground Fordow facility.

Under the JCPOA, Iran was supposed to convert the Fordow facility into a “nuclear, physics and technology center with the purpose of international scientific collaboration,” according to ISIS.

“Since the implementation of the JCPOA, however, Iran has been bolstering its ability to build gas centrifuges at the support area, while maintaining its surge capability to produce weapon-grade uranium in the tunnel complex,” the authors of a new ISIS report, which was published last week, wrote.

The investigators, among them former IAEA inspector David Albright, pointed to the fact that the Mossad found out that Fordow was built with the explicit goal of producing weapon-grade uranium for at least five nuclear warheads.

After Western intelligence discovered the secret facility in 2009 Iran re-purposed Fordow to enrich low enriched uranium and allowed IAEA safeguards.

Iran has expanded the underground nuclear complex in Fordow significantly since the implementation of the JCPOA early 2016, ISIS reported.

One of the new facilities at Fordow is named after Masoud Alimohammadi, a nuclear scientist who was assassinated by a motorcycle bomb in 2010 (most likely by the Mossad) and who was a key member of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“The Trump administration should no longer grant a waiver for stable isotope separation work (with centrifuges) at the Fordow facility given Iran’s recent threats to increase enrichment. This waiver legitimizes a facility that should not operate, given its connections to Iran’s former nuclear weapons program,” the authors concluded at the end of their study.

There’s more.

TV Channel 13 in Israel, last week reported IAEA inspectors recently determined that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was right when he told the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) Iran had another secret nuclear warehouse in Tehran besides the facility which was raided by the Mossad in January 2018.

The nuclear warehouse on Maher Alley, Maher Street in Tehran was used by the Islamic Republic to store “15 kilograms of radioactive material and 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material in 15 shipping containers,” Netanyahu told the UNGA ten months ago while Iran insisted the facility was a carpet factory.

IAEA inspectors now say they came to the “definitive conclusion” that “there were traces of radioactive material” in the warehouse which they visited multiple times since the beginning of March.

“The storing of radioactive material in a secret facility without informing the IAEA is a breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which Iran is a signatory,” according to Channel 13.

The Israeli broadcaster could have added that the same counts for the JCPOA.

Barak Ravid, the journalist who revealed the news about the IAEA conclusion, said he based his report on conversations with Israeli officials who he said hope that the UN Watchdog will now publish its findings.

The revelations about Fordow and the secret nuclear facility in Tehran indicate Mossad head Yossi Cohen was indeed right when he said Iran was flat-out lying about its nuclear program.

Iran has a long track-record of lies about its nuclear program as was exposed, for example, by former CIA spy Reza Khalili (not his real name), who delivered intelligence to the US while being a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

In 2011, Khalili claimed that Iran was already in the possession of two nuclear devices which it bought from former Soviet-Union republic Kazakhstan.

The IRGC later tried to obtain nuclear weapons from other former Soviet-Union states such as Ukraine according to the Iranian spy.

Khalili got his information from Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an experienced US intelligence officer and recipient of a Bronze Star, who said he had received specific intelligence confirming Iran had already obtained the bomb.

According to Khalili, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps received green light from the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini to start a covert nuclear weapons program when he was still spying on the Islamic Republic.

While negotiating with the US and other world powers Iran reportedly also exported parts of its illicit nuclear program to Syria which didn’t sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

In 2015, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Iran had built a new nuclear facility in the west Syrian town of Qusayr close to the Lebanese border.

Der Spiegel claimed that 8,000 fuel rods were stored at the site but American weapon expert Jennifer Dyer thought Qusayr could also be a plutonium facility.

ISIS later seemed to confirm that there is indeed underground nuclear facility in Qusayr.

The American think thank said in a report from March 2018 that while “evidence remains inconclusive there is reason to believe that Syria, apparently with help from North Korea and Iran, built a new underground nuclear facility in Qusayr.”

Qusayr was one of the targets in the massive IAF bombing raid on Iranian military facilities in the night of May 10th 2018 when 28 Israeli warplanes destroyed much of the Iranian military infrastructure in Syria.

Israeli ministers with knowledge of intelligence on Iran are now saying that the Israeli military is preparing for the possibility of all-out war with Iran.

Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi said last Friday that ” there will be a direct war between us [Israel] and Iran, direct or indirect war. This is impossible to be avoided and will get fiercer through time.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu added that the Israeli military is ready to combat Iran and warned the Islamic Republic that the IAF’ s F-35 Adir stealth fighter is able to carry out missions in Iran.