Iran Charges IAEA 'Spying' for West

Ahead of a third round of nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1, Iran accuses the UN nuclear watchdog of espionage

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Gabe Kahn,

Iran's IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh smiles
Iran's IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh smiles

Iran accused the United Nations nuclear watchdog of spying and vowed never to suspend uranium enrichment on Monday, Bloomberg reported.

The move cast doubt on whether a deal between Tehran and the P5+1 allowing wider atomic inspections is possible.

Tehran's IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh in Vienna said “Iran will resist to the end” and “will not permit our national security to be jeopardized” by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors working for Western intelligence agencies.

Soltanieh added, “Iran will never suspend its enrichment activities."

His comments came as the agency’s 35-member board of governors concluded its quarterly review of the country’s nuclear work today.

IAEA officials meet their Iranian counterparts on June 8 in an attempt to broker an agreement for wider access to sites alleged to conceal atomic-weapons work.

The push for wider access in accordance with Tehran's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came after an IAEA report earlier this year charging Iran has engaged in nuclear research of a military nature.

“The agency, which is supposed to be an international technical organization, is somehow playing the role of an intelligence agency,” Soltanieh said.

“This negotiation is happening because Iran wants it to happen,” nuclear analyst Mark Hibbs told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “There’s nothing that obligates the IAEA to negotiate over a work plan. That implies the burden is on Iran.”

IAEA inspectors have used intelligence received from member states to press Iran for answers on its program. The agency reported in November that it had “credible” intelligence pointing to Iranian work on a nuclear trigger at its Parchin nuclear complex.

Terhran subsequently cleaned-up the site, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said June 4 at a press conference. In March, Amano had said "Iran is not telling us everything," about its nuclear program.

Diplomats from China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and US are set to meet with Iranian officials in Moscow on June 18-19.

It will be the third round of talks in three months over Iran’s nuclear work. Both previous rounds failed to yield any tangible results.

“Right now we’re at an impasse because Iran believes these matters fall outside the mandate of the agency,” Hibbs told Bloomberg.

“Two weeks before the meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Soltanieh is showing Iran will be defiant. That’s not a good development," he added.