Dubai: A well-known US nuclear proliferation and terrorism expert told Gulf News yesterday that Tehran not only has the nuclear bomb, it is seeking to "duplicate them in large numbers before revealing their existence to the world".

Mansoor Ijaz said, "Iran has a functional nuclear device stored, like the Pakistanis did for nearly a decade, in component parts at multiple locations to justify its publicly declared stance of 'nuclear ambiguity' until Tehran can replicate the nuclear fuel cycle and duplicate components reliably needed to manufacture a diverse array of nuclear devices."

This, he says, requires patience and time, and underscores the delay tactics seen with increasing frequency by Tehran regarding their nuclear agenda.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News while on a brief visit to the region, Ijaz, an American financier of Pakistani ancestry whose partners include former CIA Director James Woolsey and retired US Air Force Generals James Abrahamson and Tom McInerney, warned: "Iran is committed to expanding and supplying its global 'jihadist' network with tactical nuclear capabilities, ranging from dirty radiological devices to electromagnetic pulse devices or 'electron bombs', in order to redress what Tehran sees as a growing geostrategic imbalance aligned against its interests."

Ijaz, an MIT-trained nuclear scientist whose father was a pioneer of Pakistan's nuclear programme, said, "The one functional device Iran has is the result of clandestine transfers from Pakistan's rogue black market nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold the Iranians antiquated but highly effective Chinese bomb designs and parts, including spherical shell casings, spherical 'Krytron' detonation switches and empirical software testing modules."

Through Khan, Iran also acquired the centrifuges to complete the nuclear fuel cycles that could enrich uranium to weapons-grade quality.

The US, he said, never earnestly believed in any of the diplomatic options pursued by its European allies and friends in the Middle East to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions because the Bush administration has "known the insidious nature" of Iranian governments now for many years.

"Today, the viable diplomatic options to stop Iran are few, military options even fewer. So the US is exploring tactical and strategic opportunities that blend a bit of both together."

He added: "If the US felt compelled to attack militarily, it would use a new class of weapons and a war strategy never seen before in the history of conflict.

"Let there be no illusions about the fact that the United States possesses technological advantages in executing its military options that would render every conceivable option available to Iran useless. America may not win or manage peace very well, it certainly has no difficulty waging the battle."

He said US think-tanks were already formulating strategies for an option that would rely on preparing an insurgency force to enter Iran from Iraq or other neighbouring countries. This force could in "close coordination with sympathetic Iranians who seek regime change" target Iran's vital infrastructure systems (water supply, electricity, trucking, rail lines, etc) to shut the country down and bring thousands of demonstrators out into the streets.

"This would usher in a bloodless revolution, effect regime change and avoid devastating military attacks."

Tactical support

Mansoor Ijaz, who opened channels between Israel and Pakistan in the mid-1990s, said verbal tirades between Israel and Iran stem from the "growing belief that Tehran's nuclear programme is being readied to provide tactical support for Hezbollah and Al Qaida cells around the world as a means of redressing strategic imbalances that might arise from United Nations sanctions".

Ijaz accused Tehran of having mastered "fingerprint-less terrorist acts," particularly now in Iraq where he says the US has proof of Iranian attempts to destabilise the south.

"Tehran has forged an intelligent nexus of planning state-sponsored terrorist acts with jihadists willing to martyr themselves serving as the primary benefactors. The Bush administration believes Tehran now wants to build nuclear weapons in sufficient quantity and diversity that it can arm its global militias with a range of attack options," said Ijaz, who in 1997 negotiated Sudan's offer of counter-terrorism assistance on Al Qaida to the Clinton administration.