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Opposition group: Iran building a nuclear-related facility

From David Ensor
CNN Washington Bureau

Inspectors have expressed concern about Iran's nuclear sites.
Inspectors have expressed concern about Iran's nuclear sites.

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(CNN) -- U.S. officials and international inspectors are looking into an allegation by an Iranian opposition group that Iran is secretly building a uranium enrichment plant near the city of Isfahan.

In the past, the group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, correctly identified two facilities under construction near Natanz and Arak as being part of a covert nuclear program.

In Tehran, Iranian officials denied that any facilities are being kept secret from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Iran was branded part of the "axis of evil" with North Korea and pre-war Iraq by the United States, which claims Tehran's nuclear program is being used to create an atomic bomb.

Tehran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful use, the generation of electricity. (Full story)

The IAEA inspectors are currently in Iran looking into the nuclear program there. The IAEA gave Iran a deadline of October 31 to fully cooperate with its investigation into Iran's -- until recently -- secret nuclear activities.

While the NCRI group has been correct in the past, its track record is not perfect, according to IAEA officials, who said some of the sites identified by the group have turned out to have nothing to do with Iran's nuclear programs.

IAEA officials said five sites in and near Isfahan are currently getting attention from their inspectors. They are checking to see whether the site mentioned by the opposition group is new to their inspectors.

The NCRI said in news conferences in Vienna and London on Tuesday that Iran is building a nuclear-related facility just east of Isfahan.

Spokesman Firouz Mahvi told reporters in Vienna that the plant is known as the "fuel research and production center" and that 120 to 180 centrifuges are to be installed at the facility.

"To ensure the continuation of its nuclear program, even during international inspections, or in case of aerial bombardment, the clerical regime has set up a collection of smaller nuclear sites in different parts of Iran," Mahvi said.

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