[Guest post by DRJ]
Iran today said it will allow inspectors access to its uranium enrichment facility at Qom:
“The presence of a second uranium-enrichment site that could potentially produce material for a nuclear weapon has provided one of the strongest indications yet that Iran has something to hide — despite its repeated assertions that its program is only to generate power.
That impression was reinforced by a close aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said the site will be operational “soon” and would pose a threat to those who oppose Iran.
“This new facility, God willing, will become operational soon and will blind the eyes of the enemies,” Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani told the semi-official Fars news agency.”
The purpose of the second facility is to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities from outside threats:
“Given the threats we face every day, we are required to take the necessary precautionary measures, spread our facilities and protect our human assets. Therefore, the facility is to guarantee the continuation of our nuclear activities under any conditions,” he told the television.
Iran did not say when inspections would be allowed and a spokesman claimed Iran is in compliance with UN notification requirements:
“Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran’s nuclear program, said on national television that inspectors from the IAEA could visit the site, though he did not specify when.
Salehi said there was nothing secret about the site and that Iran complied with U.N. rules that require it to inform the world body’s nuclear agency six months before a uranium enrichment facility becomes operational.
“Under (NPT) rules, we are required to inform the IAEA of the existence of such a facility 180 days before introducing materials but we are announcing it more than a year earlier,” he said.
The Iranians claim to have withdrawn from an agreement with the IAEA requiring them to notify the agency of the intent to build any new nuclear facilities and instead are now only subject to the six-month notification requirement before a facility becomes operational.”
The announcement followed President Obama’s warning of grave consequences unless Iran agreed to “a serious meaningful dialogue” over its nuclear program. The White House responded to Iran’s offer by urging Iran’s “complete and immediate cooperation with the IAEA.”
Iran seems to be following the North Korean playbook.