Western leaders reacted with a combination of indignation and outrage today when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that Iran had informed them it was in the process of constructing a second uranium enrichment facility.
Several officials used the revelation as a call to action against the Iranian government, just days before six-party talks with the nation about its civilian nuclear program. But despite a flurry of claims that the West had uncovered the “secret” facility it seems unclear that Iran actually did anything wrong.
The IAEA only actually requires that it be informed six months before an enrichment facility comes online, and the new site is at least that far from completion. Nuclear material has not been added, and the IAEA says that the data they’ve been given suggests that as with the existing Nanatz facility, the new site is only designed to enrich uranium to 5%, useful for energy production at the nation’s Bushehr power plant but not for military purposes.
Western leaders are now demanding that UN inspectors be given access to the new site. Such a demand would be seemingly reasonable, if Iran hadn’t already promised to do so days ago to the IAEA and publicly said hours before the “demands” that they have every intention of doing so.
If anything the revelation coming from Iran is inopportune for the US in pressing sanctions on the nation, as they had reportedly known about the construction for “a few years” and were planning to use the revelation to spur their call for “crippling” sactions when they discovered that Iran had already told the IAEA, as required.