The armed Iranian opposition group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), which is listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and European governments, has a large lobbying presence in the U.S. Congress and European parliaments, promoting its claim to be both democratic and the most determined opponent of the Islamic Republic.
One of the signs that the MEK still has supporters in Iran is that they occasionally provide blockbuster revelations about Iranian clandestine activities. None was more explosive than their revelations about the Iranian nuclear centrifuges at Natanz—revelations that led to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the subsequent unraveling of Iran's eighteen-year tissue of lies about its nuclear activities, repeatedly condemned by the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council. Jafarzadeh, the longtime Washington media representative for the MEK-allied National Council of Resistance, was the man who presented the MEK intelligence to the world press in an August 2002 press conference.
About half of his Iran Threat describes the Islamic Republic's nuclear program and ambitions. Jafarzadeh mixes a detailed account of what international inspectors have found with disturbing allegations by the MEK, for instance, about a clandestine nuclear program parallel to the openly declared one. Some of what he describes has checked out; many other parts remain unconfirmed by any other source, and some of those appear implausible.
How to respond to the MEK has long troubled Washington. At the same time that it classifies the organization as terrorist, the U.S. government guards more than 2,000 MEK members in Iraq where they languish on the military base Saddam Hussein provided them. While the U.S. government dearly wishes the MEK members in Iraq would disappear, it has wisely decided that even "terrorists" have human rights, and so it respects the international treaties that forbid forcible repatriation of political refugees. Since neither the United States nor any other Western countries want MEK members as immigrants, the MEK is stuck in Iraq, despite the hostility of its Shi‘i-led government (the MEK is welcomed by Sunnis who hate the Iranian government and share a nostalgia for Saddam). About a quarter of The Iran Threat is devoted to the MEK argument that Iran is behind the violence shaking Iraq. As on the nuclear file, Jafarzadeh's account seems to be a mixture of the highly accurate and the highly exaggerated. Similarly, his last chapter—"Beyond Negotiation: Toward an Iran Policy"—combines a correct reading of ordinary Iranians' hatred for the Islamic Republic with excessive optimism about the short-term prospects for overthrowing that regime.