By JPOST.COM STAFF
A secret deal being drafted by outgoing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei would see Iran retain its nuclear program, as well as the removal of all sanctions placed on the Islamic republic, simply in exchange for its cooperation with UN inspectors, The Times of London reported Tuesday.
Drafted in September, the document would allow Iran to keep and even to expand its uranium enrichment program, although under close inspection. If Iran met these terms, it would be relieved of the three rounds of sanctions placed on it by the UN Security Council, as well as five resolutions demanding that it halt enrichment.
The IAEA denied the document's existence, but a copy of it was obtained by the Times - reportedly leaked by a source that found its contents alarming.
The paper reported that ElBaradei had been hoping to cut a deal with Teheran which he could present to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. It speculated that the outgoing IAEA chief was trying to secure his legacy, which has been mired by his inability to solve the crisis with Teheran.
The IAEA is concerned about possible further secret nuclear sites in Iran, beyond the enrichment site at Qom that was revealed nearly two months ago, Reuters reported Monday, quoting a report that it had obtained.
According to the document, Iran told the IAEA it had begun building the site at Qom, called Fordo, in 2007 - but the IAEA, the United Nations' global nuclear proliferation watchdog, had evidence the project had begun in 2002, paused in 2004 and resumed in 2006.
The report said Iran had provided full access to IAEA inspectors on their first visit to the Qom site three weeks ago, but had yet to provide full, credible answers to verify that the plant was only for civilian purposes.
"The agency has indicated [to Iran] that its declaration of the new facility reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities not declared to the agency. Moreover, Iran's delay in submitting such information to the agency does not contribute to the building of confidence," the report stated.
The IAEA also said Teheran had yet to give answers about the site's chronology and purpose.
The document offered no estimate of the new plant's capabilities, but a senior international official familiar with the watchdog agency's work in Iran said it appeared designed to produce about a ton of enriched uranium a year.
That would be enough for a nuclear warhead, but too little to fuel the nearly finished plant at the southern port of Bushehr and other civilian reactors Iran is planning to bring on line in the coming years.
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