Early Sunday, if all goes as planned, U.N. nuclear inspectors will travel to a military base near Qom, Iran, for a first look at one of the country's most closely guarded nuclear secrets. Inside bunkers dug into the side of a mountain, the visitors will be escorted through a nearly completed uranium plant that Iran's president has termed "very ordinary."
But less than a month after its existence was publicly revealed, many U.S. and European intelligence officials say they are increasingly convinced that the site was intended explicitly for making highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
The Qom site has undermined one of the U.S. intelligence community's key assessments of Iran's nuclear program: the assumption that Tehran had abandoned plans to enrich uranium in secret, according to two former senior U.S. officials involved in high-level discussions about Iran.
OK, just a little logic here.
If the site was dedicated to enrichment of uranium to the level necessary to create weapons, why has Iran invited the IAEA inspectors here to see the facility?!?
So far, Iran, as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has played everything by the book. Their current power station plant, built with Russian assistance, has been inspected by the IAEA.
Never have those inspections revealed that nuclear material has been either diverted, or enriched to the level necessary to create nuclear weapons.
The facility at Qom was reported to the IAEA before it became operational, and no uranium has been enriched here as required by a signatory of the NNPT.
So, we've got Iran absolutely dotting every i and crossing every t in terms of compliance to the the terms and conditions of the NNPT.
But what about Israel? Israel has nuclear bombs at their Dimona facility (and probably elsewhere), but Israel refuses to become a signatory to the NNPT, and refuses to allow inspections of is nuclear sites, unlike Iran.