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IAEA Suspects Secret Iranian Enrichment Program

The headline in Russia’s daily, Kommersant, today reads “Iran Nearly Yields to Vienna Proposals”. But have they? While Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said on Satruday that Iran will make a counteroffer to the West, what that counteroffer may look like is currently a wild guessing game.

But one thing is for certain, as stated by Iranian spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham Elham, uranium enrichment is off the table. Just as it has been since this process began. Said Elham, “Our country will not negotiate over its obvious rights. This is a non-negotiable issue.”

Aside from observance of and adherance to the NPT treaty, which Iran has always claimed to do, the only matter of substance on the table is the Iranian enrichment program. If that is once more proclaimed non-negotiable, then what is the West negotiating? What, in three years, has changed?

The only thing that has changed in the three years of this process has been a temporary halt to enrichment activities, which Iran resumed as soon as it was referred to the UN Security Council.

But did Iran ever really halt their uranium enrichment program?

IAEA suspects that Iran has been hiding a secret nuclear weapons site. This is not the US or British intelligence services, nor is it the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the dissident group who first exposed Iran’s nuclear program in 2003. It is the IAEA itself and much more difficult for Iran to discredit.

The project is known by name to the IAEA, Zirzamin 27, but not located according to the Telegraph report, and is connected to the Lavizan site that Iran bulldozed and cleaned before IAEA inspectors could visit (and after Iran granted them permission). The IAEA had attained samples of highly enriched uranium from the location.

Zirzamin in Farsi means ‘basement’ (underground facilities) and 27 represents the number of years since the 1979 Islamic revolution. This means that the program has been started within the current Iranian calendar year or its name changes each year (highly unlikely). This is a brand new program.

One of the proper criticisms against a military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities has been that it would likely never be known whether all of the sites had been destroyed since the West does not know where all of the facilities are. That is very correct. Combine that logic with the latest IAEA suspicions about new secret enrichment program, Zirzamin 27, and serious questions must be openly asked.

Did Iran ever really cease uranium enrichment when it said it had? Were they doing the same thing before? Can they be trusted to accept a deal — which would include American technology sharing and nuclear reactors – on their word (should they ever offer it) that they have ceased enrichment?

Has anything chaged?

Caveat emptor.