I finally got more on yesterday's AP story about Iran's barring inspectors from its enrichment facilities. The upshot is that Iran has not blocked IAEA access to any of the facilities where it is currently conducting uranium enrichment (as the wire story seems to suggest). That would indeed have caused an immediate international crisis. What happened, according to a diplomat close to the IAEA, is that Iran blocked access to a certain part of the deeply buried commercial-scale Natantz enrichment facility that is still under construction. Planned nuclear facilities under construction are subject to occasional preparatory inspections, and here one team of inspectors was recently refused access. But they haven't tried to go back, and they don't expect to be denied access again when they do go back. Ergo, the AP story is accurate but critically imprecise.Mario then goes on to say, "In sum, Iran has now committed another serious breach of the nonproliferation treaty..." But I can't find the violation, since inspectors are not required to be allowed unfettered access to construction areas. I mean, sure, it would have been nice to let them in, but they weren't required. Who knows, maybe the inspectors would have been crushed by lumbering machinery had they entered. In any case, it doesn't pose a threat or a serious violation, since we have tabs on their nuclear material to the extent that they shouldn't be able to divert some of that material into a clandestine program.
Not an NPT Violation!
It turns out that the Non-Proliferation Treaty violation I was so worked up about a couple of days ago wasn't what it appeared to be. Via the Corner, who you can always trust to keep you up on "You're Going to Die"-type news: