By Reza Kahlili, The Washington Times, October 27, 2011
The pressure the United States and the West is bringing to bear on Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons is all for naught. Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.
When Iran began its nuclear program in the mid-1980s, I was working as a spy for the CIA within the Revolutionary Guards. The Guards‘ intelligence at that time had learned of Saddam Hussein’s attempt to buy a nuclear bomb for Iraq. Guard commanders concluded that they needed a nuclear bomb because if Saddam were to get his own, he would use it against Iran. At that time, the two countries were at war.
Mohsen Rezaei, then-chief commander of the Guards, received permission from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to start a covert program to obtain nuclear weapons, so the Guards contacted Pakistani generals and Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist.
Commander Ali Shamkhani traveled to Pakistan, offering billions of dollars for a bomb, but ended up with a blueprint and centrifuges instead. The first centrifuge was transferred to Iran on Khomeini’s personal plane.
In a second but parallel attempt to amass nuclear weapons, Iran turned to the former Soviet republics. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990, Iran coveted thousands of tactical nuclear warheads that had been dispersed in the former republics.
In the early 1990s, the CIA asked me to find an Iranian scientist who would testify that Iran had the bomb. The CIA had learned that Iranian intelligence agents were visiting nuclear installations throughout the former Soviet Union, with particular interest in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan, which had a significant portion of the Soviet arsenal and is predominately Muslim, was courted by Muslim Iran with offers of hundreds of millions of dollars for the bomb. Reports soon surfaced that three nuclear warheads were missing. This was corroborated by Russian Gen. Victor Samoilov, who handled the disarmament issues for the general staff. He admitted that the three were missing from Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, Paul Muenstermann, then vice president of the German Federal Intelligence Service, said Iran had received two of the three nuclear warheads and medium-range nuclear delivery systems from Kazakhstan. It also was reported that Iran had purchased four 152 mm nuclear shells from the former Soviet Union, which were reportedly stolen and sold by former Red Army officers.
To make matters worse, several years later, Russian officials stated that when comparing documents in transferring nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia, there was a discrepancy of 250 nuclear weapons.
Last week, Mathew Nasuti, a former U.S. Air Force captain who was at one point hired by the State Department as an adviser to one of its provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq, said that in March 2008, during a briefing on Iran at the State Department, the department’s Middle East expert told the group that it was “common knowledge” that Iran had acquired tactical nuclear weapons from one or more of the former Soviet republics.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an experienced intelligence officer and recipient of a Bronze Star, told me that his sources say Iran has two workable nuclear warheads.
An editorial in Kayhan, the Iranian newspaper directly under the supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader, last year warned that if Iran were attacked, there would be nuclear blasts in American cities.
Despite knowing that Iranian leaders were seeking nuclear weapons, Western leaders chose to negotiate and appease with the hope of reaching a solution with Iran. Nearly three years into President Obama’s administration, we must acknowledge that the policies of first a carrot of good will and then a stick of sanctions have neither stopped the Iranians with their nuclear program nor have they deterred their aggressive posture. The Iranian leaders today, despite four sets of United Nations sanctions, continue with their missile and nuclear enrichment program, and they have enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs, according to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report.
The Revolutionary Guards now have more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, many pointed at U.S. military bases in the Middle East and Europe. The Guards also have made great strides in their intercontinental missile delivery system under the guise of their space program. As I revealed earlier, nuclear weapons-capable warheads have been delivered to the Guards, and Iran’s supreme leader has ordered the Guards to arm their missiles with nuclear payloads. Iran’s navy also has armed its vessels with long-range surface-to-surface missiles and soon will expand its mission into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
“History suggests that we may already be too late to stop Iran’s nuclear bomb. Why do we suppose Iran cannot accomplish in 20 years of trying – with access to vast amounts of unclassified data on nuclear-weapons design and equipped with 21st-century technology – what the U.S. accomplished in three years during the 1940s with the Manhattan Project?” asks nuclear weapons expert Peter Vincent Pry, who served in the CIA and on the EMP Commission, and is now president of EMPact America.
Mr. Pry concludes that Iran only needs a single nuclear weapon to destroy the United States. A nuclear EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack could collapse the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures that sustain the lives of 310 million Americans.
Are we ready to finally realize what the goals and the ideology of the jihadists in Tehran are and take appropriate action against them? The Iranian people themselves, who oppose the dictatorial mullahs, for years have asked us to do so. Thousands of them have lost their lives to show us the true nature of this regime. We must act before it’s too late.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA spy who is a fellow with EMPact America and the author of “A Time to Betray,” about his double life in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010).