Tehran’s trickery and tactics of misdirection were on full show Saturday, April 19, when Iran’s Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi offered “to redesign” the controversial Arak reactor so that it produces one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned and his claim that this concession had “virtually resolved” Iran’s controversy with the West. But the giveaway was his mock-innocent comment: “We still don’t know why they [nuclear watchdog inspectors] want to visit Parchin for a third time…”
DEBKAfile: For three years, Tehran has denied monitors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to this military facility to investigate suspected nuclear explosive tests.
Of deepest concern, say DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources, is the way the Obama administration and European Union members are ready to be taken in by Tehran’s deceptions in their ongoing negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear accord. They dispose of one issue after another and stay willfully blind to the true ramifications of their concessions to Iran and its program’s clandestine military dimensions.
In its latest report, the Vienna-based IAEA disclosed Thursday, April 17, that, after reducing stocks, Iran was left with “substantially less of the 20-percent enriched uranium than it would need for a nuclear warhead.”
On the face of it, therefore, the immediate danger of Iran stockpiling enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb is over and a sigh of relief should now follow US Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning to a Senate committee a week ago that Iran had enough enriched uranium to start building a bomb within two months.
That being the case, the military option for curtailing the Iranian nuclear threat should be set aside and the six world powers and Tehran can resume their negotiations on May 5 for putting the final touches on a comprehensive accord for finally putting their nuclear controversy to rest.
But only on the face of it: This scenario ignore Tehran’s duplicity and conveniently passes over the sudden spurt in Iran’s production of low, 5-percent grade enriched uranium and the covert smuggling of the surfeit to the Parchin military facility of near Tehran for its secret upgrade to 20 percent, a level which can be rapidly enriched to weapons grade.
So with one hand, Tehran has reduced its low-grade enriched uranium stocks, but with the other, has smuggled a sizable quantity of those stocks for further enrichment to a facility barred to nuclear watchdog inspectors.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal that 1,300 kilos of low-grade material has been transferred to Parchin and 1,630 advanced centrifuges have been installed there for rapid upgrade work.
Whenever the IAEA applied for permission to inspect the facility in the past three years, it was fobbed off with the pretext that Parchin was strictly a military base which did not host any nuclear activity. It therefore did not qualify for international inspection.
Ali Salehi continued the pretence Saturday when he remarked with mock puzzlement: “We still don’t know why they want to visit Parchin for the third time despite two visits to the site [earlier}. They say they have some information [about the site] and we have told them to pass the information to us to make sure about its validity, which they have refused to do so far.”
Well, DEBKAfile is now putting the information out for the benefit of the nuclear watchdog. With yet another layer of duplicity stripped from Iran’s nuclear program, it is hoped that the six world powers will sit up and take notice before they face Iran’s nuclear negotiators for another round of talks in two weeks’ time.
Vice-president says world powers have accepted proposal to redesign heavy water plant at Arak.
Last updated: 19 Apr 2014 16:23
Iran has maintained the plant is for peaceful medical research only [EPA]
Iran's vice-president has said that a dispute between world powers and the country over its heavy water reactor at Arak has been "virtually resolved", state television has reported.
A report on Saturday quoted Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi as saying the country proposed to redesign the Arak reactor to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it.
The report quoted Salehi as saying that this move would end concerns the West had that Iran could use the plutonium produced at Arak to build a nuclear weapon.
"Iran has made a proposal to the P5+1 (group of world powers) to make certain changes in Arak and they have accepted. This question is virtually resolved," he reportedly said.
The deal could involve the Islamic republic slashing its number of centrifuges, changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight.
The Arak reactor, located 240 kilometres (around 150 miles) southwest of Tehran, has the capability to provide Iran with plutonium capable of being used to make a nuclear bomb.
Iran insists the 40 megawatts reactor, whose construction is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is for peaceful medical research activity only.
It and the world powers P5+1 - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany - are to resume technical talks next month in New York ahead of further negotiations on a lasting nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.
The talks would take place from May 5 to 9, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster IRIB.
In November, Iran clinched a deal with the world powers under which it froze some nuclear activities in return for some minor relief from crippling Western sanctions.
Last month Araqchi said Iran would not shut down the Arak reactor but could take measures to allay Western concerns over its nuclear facility.
Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran of secretly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian programme, charges adamantly denied by Tehran.
DEBKAfile April 16, 2014, 12:29 PM (IDT)
Iran’s defense minister said Wednesday that Iran’s missile program has nothing to do with the nuclear negotiations in progress with the six world powers and it has no nuclear dimensions. Iran's missiles are not up for discussion under any circumstances," he told the semiofficial Fars news agency. "Iran's missiles are only our concern ... We don't accept any intervention from anybody on this issue." This was Tehran’s answer to a statement by senior US negotiator Wendy Sherman that Iran’s ballistic missiles would be on the table of future sessions.
Iran adhering to nuclear freeze, watchdog says
Iran is complying with an interim agreement freezing parts of its nuclear activities, the UN's chemical watchdog says. Last year's temporary deal came in return for mild sanctions relief.
A confidential report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), seen by news agency AP, showed overall satisfaction with Iran's progress. It said Tehran had diluted most of a nuclear stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium.
This now leaves Iran with much less of enriched uranium that could be used to create a nuclear weapon, in which Tehran has consistently denied having an interest.
Under last November's interim agreement with six world powers, Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium to grades beyond 5 percent. It also agreed to neutralize its 20 percent stockpile, the minimum level of enrichment with which it is theoretically possible to create a nuclear bomb. Most warheads contain uranium enriched to at least 85 percent.
Iran has until July to fulfil its commitments under the November deal. It will meet with the six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US - in May to draw up a permanent agreement that would place long-term caps on Iran's enrichment program and other atomic activities.
At the last gathering, earlier this month, chief negotiator and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the next talks would reach an intensive phase.
The international goal is to ensure that the Iranian nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, with the removal of longstanding sanctions against Tehran on the table as a potential reward.
Diplomats on Thursday told news agency AFP that everything was in order with Iran's progress under the temporary agreement.