Iran admits to secret uranium enrichment facility; Update: Built near Iranian holy city; Update: Iran working on detonators too? Update: Ahmadinejad warns Obama
posted at 8:55 am on September 25, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Iran scurried to the IAEA in order to reveal a previously-secret uranium enrichment facility after it got wind that the US and its allies had discovered it. Iran, which has insisted that it had fully disclosed its nuclear work and research, now has to provide an explanation for their deception. If history is any guide, they won’t have to sing and dance for long:
Iran revealed the existence of a covert uranium enrichment facility to the U.N. nuclear watchdog this week after it discovered the project’s secrecy had been breached by Western intelligence agencies, FOX News has learned.
The U.S., Britain and France will accuse Iran on Friday morning of building the facility underground in secret and charge that it has hidden the facility for years from international weapons inspectors, a senior White House official said.
At an announcement before the opening of the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will demand weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency be granted immediate access to the facility.
An official told FOX News that Iran revealed the existence of the second plant in a letter sent Monday to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
Seven years ago, the secret of Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts broke as the world learned the extent of the AQ Khan network. Afterward, the world reacted by … applying half-baked sanctions and doing next to nothing. Russia began helping Iran build bigger nuclear facilities despite Tehran’s covert nuclearization, and they openly supported the mullahcracy’s continued assertions that Iran has, er, nothing to hide.
How’s that working out today?
What will be different this time? Except for some diplomatic embarrassment for Moscow, not much. Barack Obama has practically built his international reputation on the basis of offering talks to Iran, so he’s not going to be inclined to shun the mullahs now. He and the Western allies will demand IAEA inspections, which Iran will likely grant now, and that will allow them to relieve some of the diplomatic pressure that this revelation will create.
As for Russia, they still see Iran as critical to their economic health, so don’t expect much from Moscow. Earlier this week, they sounded fatalistic about new sanctions, and some wondered if Obama hadn’t worked out some quid pro quo based on the shift on missile defense in eastern Europe. Instead, it looks as though Obama may have shared this intel with Russia, which is probably how Iran found out about it.
Update (AP): No surprise that the secret facility is apparently located near Qom, which is ground zero for Shiite theological scholarship. If Israel hits the enrichment plant, Tehran will scream that it’s an attack on an Islamic holy city to rally the public towards religious war. Here’s another fun detail:
The second nuclear facility, on a military base near the Shia Muslim holy city of Qom, is thought to be capable of housing 3,000 centrifuges, not enough to produce nuclear fuel to power a reactor, but sufficient to manufacture bomb-making material, a U.S. diplomatic source who read the letter told CNN.
Remind me again, how many secret nuclear facilities did the 2007 NIE suspect Iran of having? Hot Air readers know the answer by now.
Update (AP): I missed this earlier — apparently, Obama acknowledged in his comments this morning that the secret site wasn’t designed for nuclear “energy.”
President Obama said “the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program” and called its construction a “direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the nonproliferation regime. These rules are clear: All nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy, those nations with nuclear weapons must move toward disarmament, those nations without nuclear weapons must forsake them.”
Update (AP): Another detail I missed earlier: The September deadline for Iran to respond to the west’s negotiations offer has now been quietly extended to December, notwithstanding the revelation of a new nuke facility that appears to have no peaceful purpose. Oh, and via Israel Matzav, there’s this too:
An Iranian exile group said Thursday that it has identified two previously unknown sites in and near Tehran where it says Iranian scientists are researching and trying to manufacture detonators for nuclear weapons.
The allegation, from the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, was designed to reinforce the exiles’ long-standing contention that the Iranian government, despite repeated denials, has an active program to develop a nuclear arsenal under the aegis of the Defense Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard Corps…
Abrishamchi said the two sites house programs designed to research and produce high-explosive detonators for atomic bombs.
The information came from “dozens of sources at different levels of the Iranian regime’s various organs” and was cross-checked with dozens more, he said in a statement.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled a press conference scheduled for later Friday at United Nations headquarters in New York.
No reasons were provided to the UN secretariat, which organizes the event that Ahmadinejad is given each year when he comes to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
The cancellation coincided with news that Iran has started a second nuclear plant for uranium enrichment. US President Barack Obama said at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that the second plant is ‘inconsistent’ with claims it is being used to produce civilian nuclear power.
I’d say no explanation was necessary.
Update (AP): His presser might have been canceled but Time magazine was sitting down with the tiny terrorist while Obama was making the announcement. I’m sensing the the fist is still clenched.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has warned his U.S. counterpart not to press Tehran on new revelations about a uranium enrichment plant. “If I were [President] Obama’s adviser, I would definitely advise him to refrain making this statement because it is definitely a mistake,” Ahmedinejad told TIME in New York on Friday. “It would definitively be a mistake.”…
But he seemed nonplussed by questions about the newly-revealed plant, which TIME informed him that Obama was revealing in Pittsburgh; Ahmadinejad’s response meandered from the defensive to the aggressive. “This does not mean we must inform Mr. Obama’s administration of every facility that we have,” he said. He warned that if Obama brings up the uranium facility, it “simply adds to the list of issues to which the United States owes the Iranian nation an apology over. Rest assured that this will be the case. We do everything transparently.” He added, “I’m not the person who should be giving this advice to Mr. Obama because principally, Mr. Obama’s mistakes work in our favor. But still, we do not want to see a president of a country like the United States of America to make blunders of the sort, to make mistakes of the sort.”