Iran's Nuclear Cat and Mouse Game

Discussion in 'Politics' started by carpro, May 19, 2006.

  1. carpro

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    Oct 14, 2004
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    Iran pulls curtain on atom sites

    By William J. Broad and Elaine Sciolino The New York Times
    FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006

    Due south of Tehran, the desert gives way to barbed wire, anti-aircraft guns and a maze of buildings, two of them cavernous underground halls.

    Atomic inspectors could once freely roam the 20 or so main buildings there, at the Natanz uranium enrichment complex. Operating more like police detectives than scientists, they combined painstaking sleuthing with a knowledge of physics and engineering in an effort to ascertain the site's true mission, war or peace.

    But in February, after three years of unusual openness, Iran drastically reduced access to Natanz and hundreds of other nuclear sites, programs and personnel.


    Iran's atomic obligations began in 1968, when Tehran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires countries to forgo nuclear weapons in exchange for peaceful atomic aid. Six years later, Iran signed the treaty's safeguards agreement, which mandates detailed reports on steps that could lead to weapons and allows inspectors to hunt for cheating.

    The era of expanded openness, though, did not begin until early 2003, after an Iranian opposition group revealed the existence of a vast nuclear facility at Natanz. Iran had no choice but to cooperate with the inspectors if it hoped to prove that its nuclear program was peaceful. The buildup to the invasion of Iraq further pressured Iran.

    Iran invited ElBaradei and a team of inspectors to a historic visit to Natanz. Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, proudly led the tour, showing off the parts and processes for making centrifuges and claiming they had learned how to do so in only five years with information from the Internet.

    The inspectors saw that as a lie and concluded that Tehran had long been violating the treaty's safeguard agreement. Iran, determined to reassure the West, agreed to suspend much of its atomic program while negotiating with Europe over its fate. Beyond the basic safeguards, it agreed to abide by the treaty's Additional Protocol and to adopt so-called transparency measures. Together they let inspectors go most anywhere, even military bases, and expand their investigations far beyond radioactive materials to seemingly innocuous things, such as air samples and old files.

    Thus began a game of nuclear cat- and-mouse in which inspectors praised the Iranians for the information they divulged, while criticizing them for what they appeared to withhold. Little by little, the agency pieced together a pattern of deception dating to 1985, proving that Iran had done uranium and plutonium work that could help fuel a bomb.


    Even on their best behavior, the Iranians could delay and stonewall. They are still refusing to turn over an important Khan document that inspectors have sought for more than two years.

    Sometimes, the excuses bordered on the comical. Keys to a centrifuge hall at the Kalaye Electric Company were lost. The Lavizan-Shian military physics research base on the outskirts of Tehran, recently linked to the discovery of highly enriched uranium, was razed because City Hall said it needed the land for a park.


    At Natanz, inspectors once had the right, on two hours notice, to visit any building and did so dozens of times, diplomats said. Now, they can go only to the few areas where the Iranians are enriching uranium, handling radioactive materials or preparing to do so.

    So the inspectors can no longer enter plants where Iran makes centrifuges and their numerous parts. Iran has said that these factories and warehouses, some at Natanz, will produce 54,000 centrifuges for the cavernous underground enrichment halls.

  2. Scott J

    Scott J
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    Apr 25, 2001
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    Here's an idea: Let's wait to see if they use this cover of secrecy to develop a nuclear bomb... then we'll be able to muster an international consensus and coalition to do absolutely nothing but whine a little... Because no one wants to be at the top of the hate list of a country that supports terrorism and owns nukes.

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