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Iran threatens US after dodging nuclear inspectors

Iran's Natanz nuclear facility (Hamed Saber/WikiCommons)
June 03, 2022

An Iranian official vowed on Friday that the country will provide an “immediate response” to the U.S. or any European countries who take official action against Iran through the United Nation’s nuclear inspection organization International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In remarks reported by the Iranian state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the European Union that “any political attempts by the U.S. and the three European countries in the IAEA would undoubtedly be faced with a proportionate, effective, and immediate response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Amirabdollahian did not provide any details about the kind of “proportionate” actions Iran would take against the U.S. or European countries if they acted adversely against Iran through the IAEA.

Amirabdollahian also did not directly specify what specific actions he is concerned the U.S. or European countries in the IAEA will take against Iran. Reuters reported the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Germany are all advocating for the U.N. agency to castigate Iran for avoiding answering longstanding questions about its nuclear program.

The Wall Street Journal also reported last week, based on accounts from Middle Eastern intelligence officials, that Iranian intelligence officials had infiltrated the IAEA for years in order to gain insights into their inspection plans and help Iran conceal its nuclear activities. Documents reportedly reviewed by the Wall Street Journal showed Iranian intelligence officials learned about the extent of IAEA knowledge about their nuclear programs, gained forwarning about the types of questions IAEA inspectors would ask, and discussed creating plausible scenarios to explain their nuclear activities.

David Albright, a former U.S. weapons inspector who is now president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Wall Street Journal, “Iran could design answers that admit to what the IAEA already knows, give away information that it will likely discover on its own, and at the same time better hide what the IAEA does not yet know that Iran wants to keep that way.”

Albright said Iran’s access to IAEA documents “represents a serious breach of IAEA internal security.” 

In his Friday remarks to his E.U. counterpart Josep Borrell, Iran’s Amirabdollahian also said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi’s recent visit to Israel is inconsistent with the U.N. agency’s principle of acting with impartiality.

Amirabdollahian offered his remarks as President Joe Biden’s administration continues to negotiate with Iran on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.