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April 26, 2017

NCRI Holds Press Conference Using Google Maps and Guesswork

As the Trump administration has ratcheted up its rhetoric targeting the Iran nuclear deal and even ominously suggesting a broader confrontation, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) has begun to step up its own efforts in Washington.

Last week, following Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s press conference where he suggested that the historic JCPOA (nuclear deal) was a failure and the Trump administration would not “pass the buck” on Iran to the next administration, the MEK held its own press conference rife with allegations of Iranian misconduct. The MEK, also known as the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), is a group of Iranian exiles that promote U.S.-led regime-change in Iran and was designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization until 2012. Its former base in exile, Camp Ashraf in Iraq, was consistently noted for its cult-like characteristics and inhumane treatment of members. Recruits were subjected to heavy psychological conditioning and were not allowed to leave the camp under any circumstances.  Married couples were forced to divorce lest their marriage stand in the way of their commitment to the MEK.

NCRI Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh disclosed to the conference supposedly new discoveries regarding the Iranian government’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research. Specifically, he claimed to have uncovered a new development at the Parchin Research Academy to expand explosions and impact studies, allegedly for advancements in conventional or nuclear warheads.

While none of the information has been verified, the press conference emulated past discredited attempts by the MEK to present evidence of Iranian nuclear advances. In 2015, the group tried to pass off a picture of a bank safe from an Iranian company’s website for an “explosion-resistant door” allegedly part of the regime’s weapons-testing program. Friday’s report included Google Earth satellite imagery supposedly showing new construction at Parchin and low-quality photos of “newly-identified” directors of nuclear research.

Several media outlets were in attendance, though only a few asked questions. A Washington Post reporter asked about the lack of evidence given during the presentation of the findings and whether the NCRI had shared the information with the IAEA or members of US government.

Jafarzadeh responded that the current findings were “beyond the scope” of current IAEA intel and that the information had been shared with officials. When pressed for the date when information had been shared, he lackadaisically answered “a few days ago.”

The Trump administration, and groups like MEK, have recently reinvigorated efforts to claim the JCPOA will not prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. This of course flies in the face of the assessments of the previous Obama administration, all of the United States’ European allies, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that conducts inspections of Iran’s program.

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