Iran nuke site said to be inside a mountain

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Tehran, Sep.30 (ANI): Iranian Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi has revealed that one of its uranium enrichment facilities is inside a mountain next to a military site to ensure continuity of nuclear activities in case of an attack.

Salehi also said that Iran is willing to have a general discussion about nuclear technology in Geneva but will not give up its right to uranium enrichment and conversion, CBS News reports.

"We will never bargain over our sovereign right," said Salehi.

Salehi reiterated that Iran is in talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency to set a timetable "soon" for an inspection of the site near the holy city of Qom, but said the country did not feel bound by a U.S. demand to allow the inspection within a month.

"We are working out the timetable. It could be sooner than a month or later," he added.

He said the nuclear facility is next to a military compound of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran's most powerful military force, equipped with an air defense system.

Salehi also said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told him Tuesday he named the enrichment plant "Meshkat," which means Lantern.

Details about the newly revealed site and the fact that Iran kept its construction secret have raised more suspicion among experts and Western governments that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons - something Tehran has long denied.

The U.S. and its allies have strongly condemned Iran over the site and demanded it immediately make a full disclosure on its nuclear activities or face harsher international sanctions.

President Barack Obama's administration is planning to push for new U.N. sanctions against Iran, targeting its energy, financial and telecommunications sectors if it does not comply with international demands to come clean about its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials.

Iran's decision to disclose details about its hidden nuclear site and allow the IAEA to inspect it could be an attempt to defuse international anger that the U.S. could harness in pushing through stronger sanctions.

Salehi said the site was selected after a careful study by the authorities. He said it was a formerly an ammunition depot before his agency took control of it a year ago and started construction that will eventually house a uranium enrichment plant.

He said the only connection between the Qom nuclear facility and the Guard is the Guard would protect it against possible attacks. Salehi said Iran will officially inform the IAEA of details about the site at a later date. (ANI)

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