Iran’s leaders must be shocked—shocked!—to have discovered, just months after signing a nuclear deal with the U.S. and days after it became clear that Congress would not be able to overturn it, that it had much more uranium than previously thought. Reuters reports:
Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Saturday.
The comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program.[..]
“I cannot announce (the level of) Iran’s uranium mine reserves. The important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves,” Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
Salehi said uranium exploration had covered almost two-thirds of Iran and would be complete in the next four years.
The U.S. State Department told Reuters through a spokesman that new discoveries would also be subject to the agreement, and monitored. However, this announcement will likely remind critics of the debate over Iran’s disclosure of PMD (potential military dimensions)—the account of its previous activities that would serve to benchmark inspections going forward. Skeptics pointed out that if we did not have a sense of where Iran had been, it would be harder to judge cheating going forward.
Likewise, the new “discoveries”—even Reuters put the word in quotes in one story—of undisclosed amounts of uranium will likely make monitoring the deal more difficult. And more such news may be to come—the Iranian government claims to have only surveyed 63% of the country for uranium so far, but promises to finish soon.
One wonders how many more times the Iranians will discover—unexpectedly!—good news as the deal moves forward.