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The ‘Why Disclose Now’/Violation Question, Clarified Again

Not being in Pittsburgh, I wasn’t aware of a background briefing on the previously undisclosed Qom nuclear facility. But I’ve just gotten the transcript emailed to me, and look what an unnamed senior administration official told reporters:

We believe that [the Qom facility is] not yet operational. We think it’s most likely at least a few months, perhaps more, from having all of the centrifuges installed and being capable of operating if the Iranians made a decision to begin operating it.

That isn’t the same thing as having nuclear material brought into it. As the previous post attempted to clarify, protocols negotiated between Iran and the IAEA in 2003 oblige Iran to report the arrival of nuclear material into any facility at least 180 days before such placement occurs. We’re at least in the same *ballpark *here, and that helps explain why this announcement came today. Also, the official continued, “We also learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised.”

Moving on, something that speaks specifically to violations:

The safeguards agreement between Iran and the IAEA requires Iran to declare nuclear facilities as soon as they begin construction. Now, in March of 2007, Iran unilaterally said it did not feel bound by that element of its safeguards agreement. And we know construction of the facility began even before the Iranians unilaterally said that they did not feel bound by that obligation. So clearly this is inconsistent, in my view; obviously a violation of their safeguards agreement.

Hmm. Maybe. But that’s not what the Federation of American Scientists told me.

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