Sunday Telegraph: Iran’s new hardline president has placed his country’s nuclear programme under the control of militant commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, the military’s most committed wing. Sunday Telegraph
By Philip Sherwell in Washington
Iran’s new hardline president has placed his country’s nuclear programme under the control of militant commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, the military’s most committed wing.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has launched a purge of moderates in national and provincial government since his election two months ago, has drafted in fellow radical revolutionaries to top administrative posts – a move that will heighten Western fears over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Many of the new power-brokers are veterans of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds (Jerusalem) Force, in which Mr Ahmadinejad held the rank of brigadier general. The unit is linked to a series of international terrorist attacks and the main backer of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), a leading opposition group that has previously exposed clandestine nuclear sites, gave details of the appointment of high-ranking Quds Force officers to senior positions to The Sunday Telegraph. Other Iranian exiles with contacts inside the country are also tracking the purges.
Most significantly, the country’s nuclear programme, which Iran claims is for civilian purposes, is in the hands of hardliners who, like Mr Ahmadinejad, were young radicals at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
American and British intelligence are certain that Teheran is trying to develop atomic weapons. “This is not like the pre-war debate about whether Iraq was working on weapons of mass destruction,” an American intelligence official said. “Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. There are no doubts.”
The disclosures come days after Tony Blair said that explosives used by insurgents to kill British soldiers in Iraq “lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah”, effectively ending a long-running diplomatic effort to woo Iran.