Iran has secretly revived program to enrich uranium using laser technology

Iran has secretly revived a program to enrich uranium using laser technology, reportedly with favorable results, an Iranian opposition figure said Thursday citing information from members of the resistance inside the country.

Alireza Jafarzadeh said information about the laser enrichment program at Lashkar Ab'ad, about 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) northwest of Tehran, came from the same sources that led to his revelation in May 2003 that Iran had a clandestine nuclear program.

There was no independent confirmation of the information Jafarzadeh offered on Thursday and Iran's U.N. Mission called the allegation "baseless and unfounded."

Jafarzadeh, who heads the Washington-based Strategic Policy Consulting think tank, is credited with having aired Iranian military secrets in the past, but U.S. officials consider some of his assertions to have been inaccurate.

Jafarzadeh urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to immediately send U.N. nuclear inspectors to Lashkar Ab'ad and demand access to all areas, including a new 5,000-square foot (464.5 sq. meters) hall in a large garden where he said secret laser enrichment activities are being conducted, reports AP.

"We've only now been sent a copy of this report," said IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, "and like all information that we receive, we must take the time to check it against all our information in order to decide whether it is worth following up."

Jafarzadeh said the laser enrichment is being conducted under the guise of a front company called Paya Partov whose board is chaired by Reza Aqazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Its advisers include Iran's leading experts on laser enrichment, he said.

Contrary to Iran's claim that it is complying with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Jafarzadeh said, "once again the information indicates that this is absolutely not the case."