Iran nuke chief: IAEA inspection soon

Iran nuclear chief IAEA

Ali Akbar Salehi 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Ali Akbar Salehi 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The UN nuclear watchdog will soon be told when it can conduct inspections of a newly revealed facility near Teheran, according to Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi told the English language state-owned Press TV early Tuesday that Iran would soon inform the International Atomic Energy Agency about when it could inspect its second uranium enriching facility. Revelations that Iran possessed a previously unknown site for enriching uranium have sparked alarm in the US and among its allies, days before the six world powers were set to hold talks with the Islamic republic. The nuclear site, which is apparently still 18 months from completion, is located in the arid mountains near the holy city of Qom and is believed to be inside a heavily guarded, underground facility belonging to the Revolutionary Guards, according to a document sent by the Obama administration to lawmakers. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi identified the site as Fordo, a village 180 km. south of Teheran. The site is 100 km. from Natanz, Iran's known industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant. Israel has cited the latest discoveries as proof of its long-held assertion that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Also Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers warned the US and other world powers against further pressures over Teheran's disputed nuclear program just days ahead of a key international meeting. On Thursday, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany, will meet with Iran in Geneva over the direction of its nuclear program, especially in the wake of the announcement of a previously unknown uranium enrichment facility. Iran's Foreign Ministry maintained the missile tests had nothing to do with the tension over the site, saying they were part of routine, long-planned military exercises, an assertion rejected by the United States and its European allies. Iran's parliament lashed out at the criticism but did not elaborate on what action would be taken if the pressure continued. "If the 5+1 repeats the past mistakes, the parliament will put other decisions on agenda," lawmakers said in a statement, referring to the five members of the Security Council and Germany. Iran parliament's warning could refer to a bill awaiting ratification in parliament that calls on the government to speed up its uranium enrichment activities. The West fears the program may be geared toward producing weapons, a charge Iran denies.