Iran’s nuclear plant and the definition of covert

September 25, 2009

Western powers are blasting Iran today for building another nuclear plant.

NUCLEAR-IRAN/OBAMA-STATEMENTPresident Barack Obama, flanked by the leaders of France and Britain, said to reporters in Pittsburgh for the G20 meeting that “Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.”

Iran, which revealed the existence of the uranium enrichment plant to the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Monday, unsurprisingly had a whole different take on the idea of covert.

“If it was a covert plant, we would not have informed the (International Atomic Energy) Agency,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters at the United Nations.

A U.S. official responded: “The very cursory admission to the IAEA years after the commencement of construction of such a facility whose use is undeniable does not constitute living up to its obligations.” UN-ASSEMBLY/IRAN

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Time magazine “we have no secrecy, we work within the framework of the IAEA.”

So there’s the latest in the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The West is concerned that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, Tehran says it only wants nuclear power for civilian purposes. defines covert as “concealed; secret; disguised.”

So who got it right?

The United States, which tracked the project for years, calling the plant covert? Or Iran, which had the plant under construction for years and only just now informed the IAEA, saying it’s not covert?

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama, Brown, Sarkozy at news conference on Iran), Reuters/Shannon Stapleton (Ahmadinejad at U.N.)


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Iran is right. It was hardly covert if the US knew about it for years. It’s hard to hide a major construction project from space cameras. The question is why the US didn’t call Iran on it before Iran declared it to the IAEA? My theory is that we were waiting for Iran to load nuclear materials into it which would make it an actual violation of the NPT. They are only required to disclose at the point that the nuclear materials are loaded and it in fact becomes a nuclear facility.

Posted by rgp | Report as abusive

Meh, these cries of ‘foul!’ sound very odd coming from the US, a nation that ran its own huge covert op to build nuclear weapons in total secrecy, and that later used those same nuclear weapons on the civilian populations of another nation (in the setting of a conventional war) that did not itself possess nuclear weapons.

Oh, sorry, we’re talking about Cheney’s America, Team World Police.

Posted by Nudge | Report as abusive

wow – I thought Obama’s leadership had everything under control? What happened here? I read another AP tool just telling me that Obama scored a diplomatic “coup” on Iran this week. What, by letting Iran develop even MORE nuclear capabilities? Way to Obama – strength at home, strength abroad – great job!!! Well, he cetainly has a stern look on his face in the picture – maybe that will get the job done. If not, go for the teleprompter.

Posted by Jimmany | Report as abusive

Scotty, please beam me up and lets go to a planet where the supposed Intelligent life forms aren’t silly enough to ruin the planet in the pusuit of Nuclear Weapons and Power. I wonder, why its OK for other countries to have Nuclear weapons yet all Iranians are all a bunch of crazies,they can’t have them. I sincerely doubt this is the case. All nuclear weapons have to be eliminated on the Earth or they will eliminate the Human race in time. Why is it ok for — France,england,India,Pakistan,USA,Russia  ,Israel,North Korea and god knows who else to possess weapons of mass destruction. Lets not forget terrorists. This planet has been on the brink of self destruction with Nuclear weapons on a few occasions which will destroy eco systems and wipe off countless species. We are on a one way ride down the toilet. Makes ya kinda wonder, how long the human race is going to be around. Reminds me of a documentry I saw, where a religious guy worked in a Plutonium Bomb factory so his kids could get a good education. Then to cap it off, out side the plant was a large sign saying how environmentally conscious the Company was. This is a sane, compassionate society of Intelligent Beings. Any wonder the clock is ticking down to doomsday. When even educated people are drawn to Military madness and the pursuit of money at all costs developing better more powerful Nuclear weapons. Any wonder mental illness, and suicide is rife all around the world,this world is so screwed up. I further wonder how do engineers reconcile with their inner torment, between being a good person and loving your family and then being involved in making weapons on such Horror.

Posted by John from Kapunda (Australia) | Report as abusive

How can it possibly be called covert, if it was announced, unprompted, by Iran itself to the IAEA, ahead of the schedule demanded by the NPT.

Obama and the two fidgeting buffoons have been caught red-handed on a blatant lie, while you reporters are just passing out “he said, he said” drivel.

Get the facts on the table.

Posted by RR | Report as abusive

First of all, when the last sanctions came into effect, Iran was quite clear that the NPT’s ‘Additional Protocol’ would be suspended in Iran as a consequence of those sanctions.

The ORIGINAL Nuclear Proliferation Treaty specified a time frame of 6 months advance notification of the actual processing of any nuclear materials. Well, Iran is giving 18 months advance notification before any material is processed.

And finally, why is not Israel’s Dimona plant on the table here ?

No, Iran is absolutely in the right, and should tell the “Western Powers” to pack salt.

Posted by nthrnNYker | Report as abusive

Iran was not legally required to disclose the facility until 180-days prior to the introduction of nuclear material into the site. The site is still under construction and not even operational yet. The Iranians are therefore doing exactly what they’er supposed to be doing, and not engaged in “covert” anything.

Posted by hassani | Report as abusive

Iran is a real and immediate danger to the world, now when revealing it’s 2nd nuclear facility. Obama and the rest of the western allies must take all measures in order to stop the crazy Iranian dictator from laughing on the UN and playing his foolish games with words in attempt to win more time. Can’t we get it???

Posted by AB | Report as abusive

we proud to irans peaple which they are really muslims and standing with america, every country has permission to build nucler weapons becoz america has and other countrys also have nuclear weapons why iran do not have ?

Posted by seyam | Report as abusive

Covert? It’s in Wikipedia.

Posted by Cape | Report as abusive

On nuclear weapons, it is a tragedy that anyone should have them. No double standards. We all know the right thing to do is to ban them for all – once and for all.

On the government of Iran – The West is now beginning to understand what us Iranians have been saying for 30 years. The regime occupying Iran can not be trusted in any shape or form. They are a group of greedy despots, rapists and cheats that will use any means to further their “cause” (Islam? must be joking). What they are doing opposes almost every principle in Islam. This includes mass murder and as we saw recently, they had no problems machine gunning the people of Iran in the streets of Iranian cities for asking simple questions, very peacefully. What makes anyone think that they would treat the people of the rest of the world any differently?

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Covert? Not Covert? Such a pointless question. You are an ass

Posted by MP | Report as abusive

The point is, a week earlier a bunch of Iranian expat dissidents publicly revealed, in Paris, the extence of AT LEAST TWO secret (or undisclosed) Iranian nuclear sites. Soooooo then Iran says yes we have them (plural). AND then the US says, “Aw We knew about that! (singular)” So NIE was a total fabrication the other day when its Report was released, now obsolete and plainly, Western leaders are just a bunch of Gameplayers and the public is expected to be the pawns. So, what else is new?
We see nothing out of the ordinary. Global aggression continues to cook, on a trajectory that will exterminate 5.5 Billion. You say there goes my credibility? hah! Your gullibility is written on the back of your busticket to hell. Check it! Oh? You didn’t even know they GAVE you one! hahahahahaha

Posted by Guran Walker | Report as abusive

Ahmadinejad has been holding his cards close. He wants something from the West and disclosing this plant is his messed up way of playing the game. What he wants, I don’t know but he didn’t have to say anything about this plant. He is walking the a fine line between the hardliners in Iran and the growing (and unhappy) moderate population that thinks (and are right) that he stole the election.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

I agree with Sam just above. The covert / non-covert issue is moot, it’s just a question of who found out what when. The point is that, were it not for its “leaders”, Iran might be pursuing the same route towards nuclear power as the United Arab Emirates. Using non-proliferative fuels such as Thorium rather than Uranium for instance.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

The most telling aspect of this whole situation so far has been how uniform in timing and format the western media has been. All at once they condemn Iran as being “defiant” for saying the site is open to the U.N. for inspection. And all together they apparently suffer from amnesia — forgetting that the Israelis posses a few hundred undeclared, illegal nuclear weapons. Is this the follow-up to “Saddam has nukes that could be launched in 45 minutes”?

Posted by Otis | Report as abusive

covert?lets ask the israelis.they sure know the actual meaning of covert.covert liberty attack.covert phosphorous attack.covert human organ trafficking.covert 200-300 nuclear weapons.covert piracy.and when asked about them, just deny and deny.and when caught red handed, just blame antisemitism.

i guess thats what ahmed is telling that the 3 stooges will regret.he will definitely bring up israel and its covert operations and ask them 3 stooges how to handle israel and its covert ops?

Posted by clockwerk | Report as abusive

This sort of nonsense is the reason for so many people denying the existence of God. If there was, he would delete the entire human race, leave the earth lie fallow for a couple billion years, and then try again. This time he would actually make us more intelligent than the destructive parasites, on Gaia’s body, that we are today.

Posted by Albert Cahal | Report as abusive

I’m going to have to go with the majority (so far, anyway) here and say that while I’m no fan of the Iranian leadership (as opposed to the people), the Iranian government has more than met its international obligations, if the media stories have it right.

Actually, I’ve thought all along that if Iran wants nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, fine — but quietly let the people at any potential triger know that they better not even THINK about it, in terms of building nuclear weapons. For one thing, we can be sure the Israelis would attack (and who could blame them?), and who knows where that mess would go? I reckon it would be a dead certainty the U.S. would get dragged in, along with the Arab world and others.

Heck, let’s reach into history and revive “sports diplomacy”! Maybe a football match (as in “soccer,” my fellow Americans, not the NFL/AFL variety)? Do Iranians like basketball? And have the intial match somewhere both nuetral and remote, the latter to make it harder for protestors from one camp or the other to make a bunch of trouble. Maybe somewhere like the far-flung reaches of Aregentina or Chile. Maybe New Zealand?

Posted by Mekhong Kurt | Report as abusive

As mentioned above, Iran’s nuclear plant wasn’t covert and the U.S. has known about it for years.

What the media keeps failing to mention is Israel’s nukes and the secrecy surrounding them. There are a lot of lies about the Middle East that keep fueling the fires for starting another war. When does it end?

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

i think this is a serious issue that could just be a distraction for North Kroea. Also i agree with Bill. no mater how may times we talk with or go to iran, they could just hide anything that they dont want us to see or learn about.

Posted by Caleb | Report as abusive