Ex-CIA man: Iran blast largest sabotage in decades

Former Revolutionary Guard tells 'Post' that such a blow to Fordow nuclear facility would harm Iran drastically.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad at nuclear facility 390 (R) (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad at nuclear facility 390 (R)
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Although it has not yet been verified, a report by Iranian dissident-turned CIA operative Reza Kahlili, which said a massive blast rocked Iran’s key Fordow nuclear installation last week, continued to spread on Monday.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization dismissed the claim as “Western propaganda,” while The Sunday Times cited Israeli intelligence figures as confirming the claim.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Kahlili expressed confidence that the alleged blast will receive “further coverage in the US,” and that “more information” will become available to verify the incident.
“It’s the largest case of sabotage in decades,” Kahlili said. “This is the center of the Iranian nuclear program. It is essential for the regime, its activities and its nuclear program. If such a blow was given to Fordow, it definitely harms [Iran] drastically.
They were reaching for 20 percent uranium enrichment and were increasing output,” he added.
Situated near the holy Shi’ite city of Qom, the existence of the Fordow enrichment plant, dug deep into a mountain, was kept secret by Iran until it was discovered by Western intelligence in 2009 – and the question of how long it had been in operation remains unanswered.
Kahlili, a pseudonym used to protect him from the Iranian regime, published A Time To Betray in 2010, in which he described a journey which took him from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to being a CIA agent in the 1980s.
He now resides in California, and says he is in touch with a number of insiders in the Iranian intelligence and security communities, as well as the office of Iran’s supreme leader.
Asked why satellite imagery was not being released of rescue efforts at Fordow, Kahlili said only state intelligence agencies have access to live satellite feeds.
“Why don’t they put it out? My only assumption is that no one wants to take credit because of what the consequences could be by the regime,” he told the Post. “This is a very sensitive time. I’m sure that soon, very soon, more information will leak out. Chatter will get loud enough to provide further information.”
Kahlili went on to say that within the Islamic Republic the “first suspicion is Israel.”
“I have verified information that there was a meeting [called by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei. A decision was made to act in Lebanon. A request was made to [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah to vacate southern Lebanese villages.
Islamic Republic guards are on their way there. A decision has been made to prepare for missile launch from a certain area in Lebanon against Israel,” he said.
Kahlili said one of the sources who initially leaked information of the blast came from within the security forces guarding Fordow, adding that precise information of the attack was not being released in order to protect the source.
“The source has been collaborating for a long time,” he said.
A second source came from the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, he said, adding that it was very difficult to safely get information out of Iran.
Iranian authorities have not yet made any progress in their attempt to enter Fordow, Kahlili asserted, adding, “I fear there is radiation involved.”
Iran’s Defense Ministry dispatched drilling vehicles, “the same they used to carve tunnels and create underground facilities, to see if they can make any headway in opening emergency exits, because they collapsed.
Among those stuck in the facility are dozens of foreign nationals. These are contracted scientists,” he said.
Kahlili said a second mysterious blast occurred in Tehran last week, at an IRGC base called “21 Hamza.”
“There are injuries, and there have been arrests of IRGC members who are being questioned. The Intelligence Ministry suspects sabotage,” he added.
Meanwhile, the White House on Monday threw cold water on reports of an explosion at Fordow.
“We don’t believe those are credible reports,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in response to questions on the subject from reporters. “We have no information that would confirm them.”
Carney also expressed frustration that Iran has not agreed to a new round of talks with the P5+1 world powers in Istanbul at the end of January, despite the world power’s having “shown flexibility” in the time and place of its offer.
“Iran, not for the first time, has been continuing putting forward new conditions as a delaying tactic, and negotiations about negotiations is a familiar tactic that only results in further isolation and more pressure on Iran, so it will not achieve anything,” Carney declared.
He added, however, that contact on talks is continuing and new dates in February have been offered to the Iranians.Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this article from Washington.