Iran's offer to negotiate a deal on its suspected nuclear weapons program with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the five permanent United Nations Security Council members andGermany, is being met with skepticism.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's former foreign minister and now its top nuclear negotiator, said yesterday in Vienna that his country "will facilitate the resolution of this issue if the other side is willing."
Iranian President Hassan Rohani is ready to decommission the Fordo uranium enrichment facility in exchange for an easing of international economic sanctions, the German news outlet Der Spiegel reported yesterday, citing unidentified intelligence officials.
Fordo, buried in a mountain near the city of Qom, the religious center of the country, began operating in late 2011. The facility is designed to hold 3,000 centrifuges, according to the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.
Even if Iran did close Fordo, the country's stockpile of low- and medium-enriched uranium and the 18,000 centrifuges installed at another enrichment plant near Natanz would allow it to make highly enriched fuel for nuclear weapons, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
"While this is a welcome first step by President Rohani, and should be reciprocated with some sanctions relief, it is not nearly sufficient to warrant the lifting of the toughest Western sanctions," said Dubowitz, who has advised Congress and the Obama administration on adopting increasingly tough sanctions.