Iran's plan to open its recently revealed uranium enrichment plant is part of an effort to "buy time" in negotiations over its nuclear program, former defense minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday.
Speaking to Army Radio, the Kadima MK called International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei "an ostrich with his head stuck in the sand."
He went on to surmise that meaningful sanctions would be imposed on Teheran in 2010, with Russian and Chinese support. "The exposure of the [plant] at Qom is part of Iran's secret plan," he said. "The fact that it was revealed was intended to speed up sanctions."
Mofaz's comments came a day after ElBaraedi set October 25 as the date for his inspectors to check the Qom site. He struck an upbeat note at a Sunday press conference, saying Teheran's confrontation with the West was shifting gears to more cooperation and transparency.
Though the United Nations has no "concrete proof" of an ongoing nuclear weapons program, ElBaradei said he had "concerns about Iran's future intentions."
The inspection of the site and the outcome of more nuclear talks later this month with the United States and its allies would be crucial in determining the direction of the six-year standoff over Iran's nuclear activities.
AP contributed to this report