Iran will soon tell the International Atomic Energy Agency when it can inspect the Islamic republic’s recently revealed nuclear facility, the country’s state-run Press TV reported.
The head of Iran’s nuclear program made the announcement in an interview with Press TV on Monday, but he did not give a timetable for the potential inspection. Iran revealed the existence of the covert uranium enrichment site last week, drawing condemnation from the West. The country has also launched a series of missile tests which provoked a further strong response from Western leaders. Saturday, Iran tested short-range missiles, and Monday, it fired two types of long-range missiles. What Tehran described as routine military exercises, France and the United States called “destabilizing” and “provocative.” Iran claims its nuclear enrichment program is intended for peaceful purposes, but the international community accuses the country of continuing to try to develop nuclear weapons capability. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, accused the major powers of politicizing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. He told Press TV the accusations that the newly revealed uranium enrichment plant is used for military purposes are “baseless.” “It is against our tenets, it is against our religion to produce, use, hold or have nuclear weapons or arsenal,” Salehi told Press TV. “How can we more clearly state our position Since 1974 we have been saying this.” Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is scheduled to meet Thursday with representatives of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will also attend the talks in Geneva, Switzerland. Salehi told Press TV that Iran will try to resolve the issue “both politically and technically” during those meetings.
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Both of Iran’s long-range missile tests successfully hit their targets, and Iran’s air force commander hailed the exercise as a show that Iran is “fully prepared and determined to stand against all threats.” The Shahab-3 missile can strike targets between 1,300 to 2,000 kilometers (800 to 1,250 miles), according to the Fars News Agency. See range of the missiles If true, the missile brings Moscow, Russia; Athens, Greece; and southern Italy within striking distance. The Sajil-2 missile is a solid-fuel rocket with a similar range and has been launched twice before, in November 2008 and May 2009. Last Monday, Iran wrote a letter to the IAEA, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, revealing the existence of a second uranium enrichment facility. The IAEA acknowledged the admission on Friday, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain and France to publicly chide the Islamic republic and threaten further sanctions. The facility is located on a military base near the city of Qom, about 100 miles southwest of Tehran, and is thought to be capable of housing 3,000 centrifuges, according to the officials and the IAEA. That is not enough to produce nuclear fuel to power a reactor, but sufficient to manufacture bomb-making material, according to a U.S. diplomatic source who read the letter.
Iran told the IAEA there is no nuclear material at the site, an agency spokesman said. Salehi told Press TV that the plant is under construction within IAEA regulations. He said Iran has informed the IAEA that the new site will produce enriched uranium of up to 5 percent, consistent with its nuclear energy program.