Opposition: Iran consolidates nuclear bomb effort

WASHINGTON (AP)Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gestures, as he delivers a speech Wednesday. — An Iranian opposition group said Friday that Tehran’s leaders have consolidated several scattered nuclear research efforts in a single new defense agency geared to streamline weapons development.

The Mujahedin-e Khalk, or MEK, told The Associated Press that Iran’s defense ministry established the new agency in March to merge various nuclear-related programs.

The State Department had no immediate comment on the report. Some of MEK’s past claims about Iran’s nuclear program have been confirmed, while others have not. But a former international nuclear inspector said Friday he has heard a similar report.

An MEK spokesman said the new agency, the Organization for New Defense Research is led by Moshen Fakhrizadeh, a physicist long suspected of running Iran’s secret nuclear projects.

The U.N. Security Council placed Fakhrizadeh under an asset freeze and travel ban after Iran refused to make him available to International Atomic Energy Agency investigators.

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