ISIS Iran Report

NYT reports clandestine facility near Qom

September 25, 2009

There is significant breaking news today of an alleged clandestine facility in Iran, which though not currently operational, could eventually house as many as 3,000 centrifuges.  According to the New York Times, the underground site is located near the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran.  The IAEA’s director of safeguards, Olli Heinonen, has been briefed on the finding.  According to the Times, earlier this week, alerted that the facility was being brought to the attention of the IAEA, Iran sent a “brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a ‘pilot plant’ under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed.”  Iran in 2006 unilaterally amended its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, reverting to an out-dated, 1970s era provision that information about new facilities need only be shared with the IAEA six months before nuclear material is introduced into such a facility.  This appears to be precisely the situation the IAEA is now confronting, though it remains to be seen if and how Iran explains the existence of the site.

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