September 30, 2009

“IAEA: Iran broke law by not revealing nuclear facility”

In a statement made to CNN-IBN, Mohamed El Baradei said of the recently revealed nuclear facility in Iran near Qom:

“Iran was supposed to inform us on the day it was decided to construct the facility. They have not done that. They are saying that this was meant to be a back-up facility in case we were attacked and so they could not tell us earlier on.”
“Nonetheless, they have been on the wrong side of the law, you know in so far as informing the agency about the construction and as you have seen it, it has created concern in the international community.”

The size of the facility appears to be inconsistent with the contention that it is for an exclusively civilian nuclear program. It is thought to be capable of housing 3,000 centrifuges according to the IAEA (4300 according to ACW)–potentially enough for manufacturing material for weapons use, but insufficient to power a reactor.

El Baradei, however, also stated:

“Whether they have done some weaponization studies as was claimed is still an outstanding issue. But I have not seen any credible evidence to suggest that Iran has an ongoing nuclear program today.”

In March 2007, Iran unilaterally withdrew from obligations under their subsidiary agreement to their NPT safeguards. The IAEA contested Iran’s withdrawal as illegal, but also said this:

Given the fact that Article 42 [of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement] is broadly phrased and that the old version of Code 3.1 had been accepted as complying with the requirements of this Article for some 22 years prior to the Board’s decision in 1992 to modify it as indicated above, it is difficult to conclude that providing information in accordance with the earlier formulation in itself constitutes non-compliance with, or a breach of, the [NPT-related] Safeguards Agreement as such.

In any case, the existence of an undeclared nuclear facility near Qom is the opposite of what Iran has needed to do for some time: build confidence in its negotiating partners that it is not seeking a weapon.

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