After years of confidently stating, "No, Iran absolutely, positively is not building nuclear power plants, no way," the Nobel Peace Prize awardee, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday charged otherwise. According to David E. Sanger and William J. Broad in the New York Times
International inspectors who gained access to Iran's newly revealed underground nuclear enrichment plant voiced strong suspicions in a report on Monday that the country was concealing other atomic facilities.
The report was the first independent account of what was contained in the once secret plant, tunneled into the side of a mountain, and came as the Obama administration was expressing growing impatience with Iran's slow response in nuclear negotiations.
In unusually tough language, the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared highly skeptical that Iran would have built the enrichment plant without also constructing a variety of other facilities that would give it an alternative way to produce nuclear fuel if its main centers were bombed. So far, Iran has denied that it built other hidden sites in addition to the one deep underground on a military base about 12 miles north of the holy city of Qum. The inspectors were given access to the plant late last month and reported that they had found it in "an advanced state" of construction, but that no centrifuges - the fast-spinning machines needed to make nuclear fuel - had yet been installed.
In its report, the agency said that Iran's belated "declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction, and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities in Iran which had not been declared to the agency."
Yes, that would reduce confidence. Especially since the IAEA, along with so many others, was just shocked and surprised at the discovery of the plant in September; Iran denied its existence for years. However, according to Richard Beeston and Catherine Philip of England's Times Online at the same time the IAEA's parent body the
United Nations and Iranian officials have been secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear programme in return for co-operation with UN inspectors.
According to a draft document seen by The Times, the 13-point agreement was drawn up in September by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in an effort to break the stalemate over Iran's nuclear programme before he stands down at the end of this month.
The IAEA denied the existence of the document, which was leaked to The Times by one of the parties alarmed at the contents. Its disclosure was made as the agency warned that Iran could be hiding multiple secret nuclear sites.
It was thought that Mr ElBaradei was anxious to secure his legacy after infighting over his perceived weakness in dealing with Iran.
(Full IAEA report )
Of course Iran would co-operate with the UN's IAEA in the same way as it has in the past--lying and obfuscating while increasing their nuclear capabilities. So Mr ElBaradei's dubious legacy--along with the Nobel Peace Prize, the UN and the IAEA--will be secure.
And then all will be well with the world.
hat tip: Daily Alert