Iran would “very soon” allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect its second uranium plant, to help allay fears about its nuclear intentions.

In an interview to the state-run Press TV, Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said: “Iran will inform very soon IAEA about a timetable for its visits to the second enrichment plant.” Iran had on September 21 informed the IAEA about its second uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom in central Iran. The facility is reportedly located inside a mountain.

Mr. Salehi said the second enrichment plant was part of Iran’s stand-by “passive defence”. It had been undertaken in anticipation of “worst case scenario” of a military attack on Iran’s atomic facilities. “Iran is taking all the necessary steps to safeguard its human resources, its personnel and its sensitive instrumentations. So, this is, I would say, a place that would guarantee this, it can withstand any kind of unforeseen attack.”

The Iranian official stressed that Iran had informed the IAEA that the new plant would produce enriched uranium of up to 5 per cent. He added that the charge levelled against Iran that it was enriching uranium at its second enrichment site for military purposes was “baseless”. Mr. Salehi pointed out that accusations levelled by the United States and its Western allies during last week’s summit of the G20 in Pittsburgh were pre-planned. However, Iran would try to resolve the issue both politically and technically at the upcoming Geneva meeting.

Ahead of Thursday’s talks in Geneva between the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany with Iran, the Western countries have sharpened their focus on the range of possible sanctions that can be imposed against Tehran in case of non-compliance. The Financial Times is reporting that the U.S. congress is discussing a law that would allow imposition of sanctions against insurance companies, most of whom are European, that cover gasoline shipments to Iran. The legislation would target “any activity that could contribute to the enhancement of Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum resources, including providing ships or shipping services . . . underwriting or otherwise providing insurance or reinsurance for such activity [and] financing or brokering,” the daily observed.

According to the FT, the pro-Israeli lobby group, Aipac, has identified groups such as Lloyds and Munich Re as providing services to shipments of refined petroleum to Iran. Analysts say that the move is being visualised to override possible Russian and Chinese objections to the imposition of gasoline sanctions against Iran.

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