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IAEA inspects second suspected nuclear site in Iran

Rafael Mariano Grossi (IAEA Imagebank/WikiCommons)
September 30, 2020

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

The UN’s nuclear watchdog says it has gained access to a second site in Iran where nuclear activities are suspected to have taken place in the past, as agreed with Tehran last month.

“As part of an agreement with Iran to resolve safeguards implementation issues specified by the IAEA, the agency this week conducted a complementary access at the second location in the country and took environmental samples,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement on September 30.

In late August, Iran announced it would allow the IAEA access to two sites following a visit to Tehran by IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi, ending a standoff between Tehran and the Vienna-based global watchdog.

After the first site was visited by inspectors in early September, Grossi said that analyzing samples collected there would take “no less than a couple of months, two or three months maybe.”

The IAEA has criticized Iranian officials for denying it access to the two locations, and for not answering its questions about possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities there during the early 2000s.

In June, the IAEA’s board of governors passed a rare resolution demanding that Iran “fully cooperate” and “satisfy the agency’s requests without any further delay,” including by providing “prompt” access to the sites in question.

Iran argued the UN agency had no legal basis to inspect the sites.

The row had threatened to put yet more strain on a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, after the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Under the deal, Iran pledged to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.