The group’s ‘Iran Watch bulletin’ for June-July likens Iran’s conduct to that of Iraq before the 1991 Gulf War. Both countries conducted secret nuclear experiments and both relied on clandestine imports and on cover-ups. Iran and Iraq, according to this analysis, both secretly produced small amounts of plutonium and enriched uranium, the two materials that fuel nuclear bombs. To make plutonium, Iranian and Iraqi scientists used small reactors that their countries had imported under the “guise” of peaceful nuclear research. To make enriched uranium, both countries ran high-speed gas centrifuges and also experimented with lasers. In 1991, Iran imported uranium compounds from China, including over a ton of uranium hexafluoride gas. The gas was secretly enriched in centrifuges, whose designs and parts were also imported surreptitiously. Just before the Gulf War, Iraq also succeeded in testing its own centrifuges, based on designs and components illicitly procured from Germany, using material secretly imported from Niger and Brazil.
According to the Wisconsin Project, both countries went to considerable lengths to conceal their activities, once the scope of their programmes came to light. In May 2003, Iran dismantled and moved laser enrichment equipment from its secret pilot plant at Lashkhar Ab’ad to an undeclared storage facility. Iran also made considerable modifications to the Kalaye Electric Company workshop, and its previously unknown centrifuge enrichment facility in Tehran that is believed to have been involved in undeclared nuclear activities, before international inspectors came to take environmental samples. “After considering the pattern established by Iraq and followed – almost to the letter – by Iran, it is hard to miss where Iran’s programme is headed,” the group concludes.