The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain had been planning to charge Iran with constructing the facility in an announcement in Pittsburgh before the opening of the G-20 economic summit. It said they were to demand Tehran open the plant to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA].
Two officials told the AP that Iran revealed the existence of a second plant in a letter sent Monday to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze enrichment at what had been its single known enrichment plant, which is being monitored by the IAEA.
The officials told the AP that Iran’s letter contained no details about the location of the second facility, when — or if — it had started operations or the type and number of centrifuges it was running.
But one of the officials, who had access to a review of Western intelligence on the issue, said it was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Tehran and was the site of 3,000 centrifuges that could be operational by next year.
Iranian officials had previously acknowledged having only one plant — the one under IAEA monitoring — and had denied allegations of undeclared nuclear activities.
The last IAEA report on Iran in August said Iran had set up more than 8,000 centrifuges to churn out enriched uranium at the cavernous underground Natanz facility, although the report said that only about 4,600 of those were fully active.
The Islamic Republic insists that it has the right to the activity to generate fuel for what it says will be a nationwide chain of nuclear reactors. But because enrichment can make both nuclear fuel and weapons-grade uranium, the international community fears Tehran will use the technology to generate the fissile material used on the tip of nuclear warheads.
The revelation of a secret plant further hinders the chances of progress in scheduled Oct. 1 talks between Iran and six world powers.
At that meeting — the first in more than a year — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany plan to press Iran to scale back on its enrichment activities. But Tehran has declared that it will not bargain on enrichment.
The officials who spoke to the AP — one from a European government with access to IAEA information and the other a diplomat in Vienna from a country accredited to the IAEA — demanded anonymity Friday because their information was confidential. One said he had seen the Iranian letter. The other told the AP that he had been informed about it by a U.N. official.
While Iran’s mainstay P-1 centrifuge is a decades-old model based on Chinese technology, it has begun experimenting with state-of-the art prototypes that enrich more quickly and efficiently than its old model.
U.N. officials familiar with the IAEA’s attempts to monitor and probe Iran’s nuclear activities have previously told the AP that they suspected Iran might be running undeclared enrichment plants.
The existence of [the first] secret Iranian enrichment program built on black-market technology was revealed seven years ago. Since then, the country has continued to expand the program with only a few interruptions as it works toward its aspirations of a 50,000-centrifuge enrichment facility at the southern city of Natanz.
Associated Press. Reprinted from the Washington Times. For educational purposes only. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.
1. Define uranium-enrichment from para. 1 and sanctions as used in para. 3.
2. What revelation did Iran make in a letter to the IAEA this week?
3. Why has the U.N. Security Council already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran?
4. Why does the international community fear that the Iranian government will use their nuclear technology to make nuclear weapons?
5. a) What is the purpose of the Oct. 1 talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany?
b) How has Iran already responded to these future requests?
6. Read the “Background” below. U.N. officials familiar with the IAEA’s attempts to monitor and probe Iran’s nuclear activities have previously told the AP that they suspected Iran might be running undeclared enrichment plants. The previous three sets of sanctions against Iran have not been effective in persuading them to end their nuclear program. The U.S. and others say they will now give Iran until December to comply or face further sanctions. How effective do you think these further sanctions will be? How should the international community deal with Iran at this point? Be specific.
- Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs.
- Under the United Nations’ NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty – the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom).
- Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the Treaty through inspections conducted by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
- The IAEA issued a report on Sept. 15, 2008 that said Iran has repeatedly blocked an investigation into its nuclear program and the probe is now deadlocked.
- The U.N. Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance. Despite the sanctions, Iran has refused to end its nuclear program.
- A group of U.S. and Russian scientists said in a report issued in May 2009 that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that. The study, published by the nonpartisan EastWest Institute, also said Iran is making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles “in perhaps six to eight years.”
- The Iranian government has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions. It is believed that once obtained, Iranian President Ahmadinejad would use nuclear weapons against Israel.
ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: (read more at the website un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_background.html)
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
- There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten elected members with two-year terms.
- Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.
ON URANIUM ENRICHMENT:
Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation.
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