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Iran Rejects West's Concerns Over its Underground Plant

Iran’s envoy to the IAEA says the West's reactions to the Fordo underground nuclear plant are politically motivated.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/11/2012, 8:48 AM

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Iran-Tehran Flags
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Iran on Tuesday rejected the reactions of Western countries to its new underground uranium enrichment plant, saying they are “politically motivated.”

Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that the Fordo nuclear site is operating under full supervision of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog group.

“IAEA is monitoring all activities at the Fordo nuclear site,” Soltanieh told IRNA. “The Fordo site is not new and the IAEA has since the beginning had presence and full supervision on all phases of the facility’s completion.”

On Monday, the IAEA confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at the Fordo plant, in northern Iran.

The existence of the facility near Qom only came to light after it was identified by Western intelligence agencies in September 2009. The facility is underground, heavily fortified and protected by the armed forces, making it a very difficult target for air strikes.

A spokeswoman for the IAEA, Gill Tudor, said the agency could “confirm that Iran has started the production of uranium enriched up to 20%.”

Asked about the purpose of the 20% enrichment, Soltanieh told IRNA, “As announced officially to the IAEA, the 20 percent enriched uranium will be used for the humanitarian purpose of providing fuel for Tehran’s medical research reactor to produce radio isotopes and radio medicines.”

He added, “The project is fully humanitarian and peaceful and certain hues and cries in that concern are politically motivated to divert public opinion from reality.”

The United States condemned Iran’s uranium enrichment, saying the work at the Fordo site is “a further escalation of their ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations.”

Russia was reportedly also upset with the news. A Russian news agency quoting a foreign ministry source as saying Moscow received the news with “concern”.