In a move that one can only assume will end the constant international “demands” for Iran to provide access to its Qom facility, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has announced that the agency has finalized talks with Iran and will visit the site on October 25.
Though it has been well established that these talks have been ongoing for over a week, as recently as this morning Obama officials were still demanding that Iran allow the IAEA to visit Qom, with Susan Rice threatening sanctions to “punish” Iran if it failed to do so.
The Qom facility is designed to be a smaller secondary uranium enrichment facility, but construction is still far from finished. Iran revealed the planned site in mid September to the IAEA, as required under the terms of their agreement with the nuclear watchdog.
The revelation was particularly irksome for the United States, which had discovered the existence of the site and was planning to reveal it to the international community only to learn that Iran had already done so. Despite having been beaten to the punch, President Obama and other officials have claimed to have “uncovered” the “secret” facility.
There is something of a dispute with the international community over the timing of the revelation. Iran’s Safeguards Agreement only requires it to reveal facilities six months before adding nuclear material to them, but in the early 1990’s the IAEA attempted to convince Iran to implement a modification which would have called for earlier notification. Iran never formally ratified the newer agreement, however, and insists it is only obliged to follow the earlier agreement. Either way, the IAEA has continued to be able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material, making the question more academic than a serious issue.