Iranian President Mohammad Khatami recently escorted a group of international journalists around parts of Iran's underground nuclear facility at Natanz. The existence of the secret uranium–enrichment plant at Natanz was first disclosed by an Iranian opposition group in exile in 2002. That disclosure alerted the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, to Iran's clandestine nuclear program.
Enriched-uranium can be used either to produce electricity or to manufacture atomic bombs. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that Iran's state-sponsored tour of the facility at Natanz is an empty, theatrical gesture:
"If Iran were really serious about demonstrating transparency in its nuclear program, it should answer all of the International Atomic Energy Agency's outstanding questions. If Iran were really serious about allaying the concerns of the international community, they would stop denying I-A-E-A full and unrestricted access to suspicious sites like the Parchin high-explosive facility. They would stop refusing I-A-E-A requests to interview key officials associated with Iran's nuclear activities. They would tell the truth about the history of their advanced P-2 centrifuge program. They would tell the truth about their Lavizan facility before they bulldozed it to the ground. They would answer openly questions about past plutonium-separation experiments."
Unlike "a staged media event," said Mr. Ereli, there are "real, effective, meaningful ways" to demonstrate a commitment to transparency. Mr. Ereli also said that the United States is "on the same page" as the European Union in its diplomatic efforts to convince Iran, in return for economic incentives, to abandon permanently all uranium-enrichment activities:
"We have a common approach and a coordinated diplomacy to put the choice before Iran very clearly: either make decisions that are characteristic of a responsible member of the international community or find yourself further isolated and further ostracized."
"We all agree," said Mr. Ereli, "that Iran shouldn't have a nuclear weapon, and we're concerned that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.