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UN nuclear watchdog chief again demands Iran allow inspectors into sites

Rafael Mariano Grossi (IAEA Imagebank/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has again pressed Iran to provide inspectors with access to sites where the country is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material.

IAEA Director General Mariano Grossi told reporters in Vienna on June 15 that for more than four months Iran has denied the agency access to two locations, and that for almost a year “it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.”

He called on Iran to cooperate immediately and said he has made the case with high-level Iranian officials.

“We need this cooperation,” Grossi said. “I regret that at this point we have this disagreement.”

Even though the two sites are not thought to be key to Iran’s current activities, the agency says it needs to know if past activities going back almost two decades have been properly declared and all materials accounted for.

Iran maintains that the IAEA has no legal basis to inspect the sites. Activities at the two sites and a third are thought to have been from the early 2000s, before Iran signed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

‘No Legal Ambiguities’

Grossi rejected Iran’s view that the request for access was without legal merit, saying there are “no legal ambiguities.”

Grossi has previously demanded that Iran stop blocking its investigation into the sites. He said in March that Iran should “cooperate immediately and fully with the agency.”

A report released earlier this month provided details about Iran blocking access to the sites. The report also said Iran has continued enriching uranium far beyond the limits set by its 2015 pact with major powers.

The IAEA said in the report that it had determined that one site had undergone “extensive sanitization and leveling” in 2003 and 2004 and there would be no verification value in inspecting it.

It said Iran has blocked access to the other two locations, one of which was partially demolished in 2004 and the other at which the agency observed activities “consistent with efforts to sanitize” the facility from July 2019 onward.

Iran told the agency that the report was a source of “deep regret and disappointment” and hinted that the queries were based on “fabricated information” from “intelligence services.”

Israel has previously claimed its intelligence services unearthed information on an alleged previous nuclear weapons program in Iran.

Western countries have voiced concern over Iran’s denial of access to the sites, with the United States being particularly vocal.

Washington unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear pact two years ago.