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Iran to allow IAEA inspection of Qom facility
IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei announced that the Iranian government has agreed to allow access to a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment facility on Oct. 25.
CA Online and wire services
WASHINGTON — International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said during a visit to Tehran on Oct. 4 that the Iranian government had agreed to allow the agency access to a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom on Oct. 25.
The West wants the inspections to include several buildings that American and European officials suspect could be part of a string of covert facilities built to supply the newly revealed enrichment centre.
On Oct. 1, western leaders demanded that the facility be opened within two weeks of their meeting on the same day with Iran in Geneva. Instead, Iran offered the date of Oct. 25, exactly one month after Western leaders revealed that their intelligence services had evidence Iran was installing enrichment equipment in the site, which is tunneled under a mountain and inside a Revolutionary Guards base.
A few days earlier, on Sept. 21, Iran sought to pre-empt the West by declaring the site to the IAEA years after building began.
Agency inspectors are concerned that a month will provide Iran enough time to remove some of the equipment. “The longer you wait, the less you learn,” a senior European official familiar with inspections said last week.
An important test of Iran’s attitude, officials said, will be willingness to ship its stock of low-enriched uranium, produced in recent years at a declared nuclear enrichment site at Natanz, to Russia and France for conversion to reactor fuel.
In Tehran, Iran’s top nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi said at a news conference that he would meet senior officials from the U.S., France and Russia on Oct. 19, to discuss the details of an agreement for Iran to obtain uranium enriched in Russia and France for a research reactor in Tehran. However, Tehran’s Press TV subsequently reported that Iranian officials “rejected reports they had reached a deal with world powers to ship enriched uranium abroad for processing.”