Six years ago, President Barack Obama and leaders from France and Great Britain condemned the existence of a secret Iranian nuclear facility, but now the United States and its partners involved in the winding-down nuclear talks with Iran in Switzerland indicate the location may be allowed to remain.
News first broke about the underground site at Fordow, built secretly within a mountainside, in 2009, and was almost immediately condemned during a G20 conference in Pittsburgh, just one day after the three nations presented detailed information about it to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, reports CNSnews.com.
"This site deepens a growing concern that Iran is refusing to live up to those international responsibilities, including specifically revealing all nuclear-related activities," Obama said in Pittsburgh at the time. "Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program."
He called Iran's decision to build the secretive facility without notifying the IAEA a "direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime."
Meanwhile, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Iran's nuclear program "the most urgent proliferation challenge that the world faces today."
"The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve," he added.
"Confronted by the serial deception of many years, the international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand," Brown continued.
That line in the sand came in 2012, when the three countries, along with Russia, China, and Germany, or the coalition known as the P5+1 that is involved with the ongoing nuclear negotiations in Switzerland,
demanded that Iran shut down the Fordow facility.
But now, unnamed officials reported to The Associated Press, the United States is considering a plan that will not only allow Iran to keep Fordow open, but also to operate several hundred centrifuges on the site.
It would remain open to IAEA inspectors, and work there would be restricted. In exchange for keeping Fordow running, the AP reports, Iran would agree to limit other facilities.
"We are determined to make use of this site according to the guidelines of Iran's Supreme Leader and AEOI's technical needs," said Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the AEOI or the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a frequent critic of the Iran nuclear talks, said in a press statement
that if the report that Fordow will stay open is true, "we are not inching closer to Iran's negotiating position, but leaping toward it with both feet."
Instead, Menendez said: "We have pivoted away from demanding the closure of Fordow when the negotiations began, to considering its conversion into a research facility, to now allowing hundreds of centrifuges to spin at this underground bunker site where centrifuges could be quickly repurposed for illicit nuclear enrichment purposes."
Further, he said that "an undue amount of trust and faith" is being placed with Iran, which has "spent decades deceiving the international community; denying the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its facilities; refusing to answer questions about its nuclear-related military activities; and all the while, actively destabilizing the region from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq to Yemen."
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke declined comment on the report, saying that there will likely be many reports coming out over the next week, but "we've been clear all along that we're not going to negotiate in public and we're also not going to comment on specific reports about specific details that purportedly are coming up in the talks."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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