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4 Oct, 2009 13:42

Date set for IAEA inspection of Tehran’s secret plant

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog has said an inspection of Iran's recently revealed second nuclear facility will take place on October 25.

According to Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has “no concrete proof of an ongoing weapons program in Iran.” He made the announcement after meeting Iran's president and nuclear chief in Tehran.

“It is important for us to have comprehensive cooperation over the Qom site. It is important for us to send our inspectors to assure ourselves that this facility is for peaceful purposes,” the UN official said.

ElBaradei’s visit follows renewed negotiations between Iran and major world powers in Geneva earlier this week.

Iran's recently-revealed uranium enrichment site in Qom caused a global uproar.

With US and European powers suspecting it is another step towards the country getting atomic weapons, Iran insists it is all above board.

Last week Iran once again drew attention to its nuclear program with the revelation that the country had a second uranium enrichment facility that would soon become operational.

The plant was kept secret from the time construction began in 2006. However, the country's president says IAEA experts are welcome to inspect the uranium enrichment facility at anytime.

“The Iranians announced the site within the framework of international law,” Dr. Seyed Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran told RT. “And, therefore, it was only built because of the certain threats made by countries like the United States and Israel to bomb the country and attack the country.”

“But, Iran's relations with Russia have improved. The Iranians believe that it is in Russia’s interest to remain a consistent partner,” the professor added.

Russia could become the third party that would enrich Iran's uranium up to the level needed for peaceful purposes. This would be for medical purposes at the experimental reactor in Tehran.

“We agreed on a scheme – by ‘we’ I mean Russia, the US, the IAEA and maybe France will take part in this,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “According to this scheme, we will take low enriched uranium from Iran, further enrich it and use it as a fuel for the absolutely legal experimental reactor in Teheran.”

The scheme would provide transparency and could become the key to solving the Iranian nuclear problem for the whole world.

“This is a very, very skillful and surprising face-saving agreement,” says Michael Adler of the Woodrow Wilson Center. “Iran is effectively reducing the amount of uranium they have, because they have made so far about 1500 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. And this is a crucial number. It’s the number that they would need to enrich further if they were going to make a nuclear weapon.”

Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom has confirmed it is ready to receive Iran’s nuclear fuel. In fact, it has been ready for quite a while: the solution has been on the table for years, but negotiations came to a dead end in summer 2008.

However, with Obama's administration ready for a “change”, the new initiative could now come up a winner.

“The IAEA proposal that was agreed to in principle today, with regard to the Tehran research reactor, is a confidence-building step that is consistent with that objective, provided that it transfers Iran’s low-enriched uranium to a third country for fuel fabrication,” US President Barack Obama said on October 1.

Saeed Jalili, the Chairman of Iran’s National Security Council and the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, reminded that last year his country came up with several initiatives and suggestions in the talks, but “they were all halted.”

“Now I have a feeling that the talks would go ahead, and we would only progress,” he also said.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev insist that Iran allows IAEA observers into its nuclear facilities.

If Iran does not meet its promises, Washington says sanctions will follow. During the recent meeting with Obama, President Medvedev said that sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases they are inevitable.