Iran is building an underground nuclear facility in the mountains northeast of Tehran that it hasn’t declared to international inspectors, an Iranian opposition group said.
The complex of tunnels near the town of Damavand, 60 kilometers (35 miles) from Tehran, has been under construction since 2006, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, an opposition group with a mixed record of accuracy, said in a statement. Its exact purpose is unknown, the group said.
Four satellite images purporting to show the site were attached to the statement. The group said it obtained information on the facility from unidentified people in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Ministry of Defense, the Atomic Energy Organization and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces. There was no way to immediately verify the images independently.
Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani said after his election win last month that he will make the country’s nuclear program more transparent and ease tension with the U.S. in a bid to ease sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
The site comprises four tunnels, two of which are about 550 meters (600 yards) long, the Mujahedeen said, and was built by engineering companies associated with the Defense Ministry and the Republican Guards. The Mujahedeen, which until last year was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group, says it was the first to reveal Iran’s nuclear program in 2002.
Israel, the U.S., France and Britain say they think Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons capability. Iran says that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it’s entitled to conduct nuclear work and maintains its program is solely for energy generation and medical research.
Negotiations with six world powers have failed to yield a concrete outcome, and a series of votes at the United Nations Security Council has placed Iran under sanctions that have fueled a currency devaluation and helped to send the Iranian economy into recession.