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12/02/2004

Iran Military Nuclear Programs

On the Iran front, William J. Broad, David E. Sanger and Elaine Sciolino report in the New York Times that IAEA inspectors have asked Iran for access to two secret military locations. Based on "a mix of satellite photographs indicating the testing of high explosives and procurement records showing the purchase" of dual use equipment, the IAEA is concerned that Iranians have a military enrichment program parallel to their recently stoppered civilian program. The two sites are "a relatively new facility, called Lavisan II, built in northeastern Tehran," and "a huge, decades-old facility southeast of Tehran, the Parchin military complex."

The requests coincide with an uptick in exile agitating about Iran's military nuclear program, with the MEK promising to "release what it called new information that Iran was secretly developing a nuclear-capable missile whose range is significantly greater than what the Iranians have publicly acknowledged to date," and providing the intel on Lavisan II. These allegations likely either derive from, or are the basis for, Colin Powell's recent statements regarding Iran's missile program.

Even if the allegations about Iran's military program are true, it is not a breach of the letter of the recent agreement between Iran and the EU, which was limited to Iran's civilian program. Iran is under no legal obligation to open up its military facilities, but there is hope that it will comply voluntarily, as it has on occasion in the past. European diplomats, the Institute for Science and International Security, and others that haven't suffered trust-setbacks in the recent past are also concerned about the sites. Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, who sounds suspiciously French, has much more on the labyrinthine fetters on IAEA inspectors:

"The IAEA simply has no authority to go to sites that are not declared nuclear sites," a diplomat close to the IAEA inspection process told Reuters.

He said the agency needed Iran's permission to inspect undeclared sites. The IAEA had not asked to inspect Lavizan II, although it would like to.

 

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