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New Doubt Cast on U.S. Claim Qom Plant is Illicit


New Doubt Cast on U.S. Claim Qom Plant is Illicit
By Gareth Porter | IPS News

An Iranian assertion that construction on its second enrichment facility began only last year and further analysis of satellite photos of the site have cast fresh doubts on the Barack Obama administration's charge that the construction of the plant near Qom involved a covert decision to violate Iran's obligations to report immediately to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on any decision to build a new facility.

At a Sep. 25 briefing on the site, senior administration officials refused to provide any specific information to back up the claim that construction had begun before the March 2007 Iranian withdrawal from an agreement requiring that it inform the IAEA immediately of any decision to build a nuclear facility.

The U.S. charges on the Qom facility, coming a week before the first opportunity for negotiations with Iran on a full range of issues since 1981, appear to have been a deliberate ploy to make the Obama administration appear tough and on the offensive when the talks started.

Iran's Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told a news conference Tuesday that his agency took over a military ammunition dump in 2008 to begin work on the enrichment facility near Qom.

Meanwhile, a new photo analysis by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) of the Qom site in 2004 and 2005 suggests it was not dedicated to building a uranium enrichment facility at that time. Read more.

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