Top IAEA official resigns unexpectedly

Chief of inspections at UN nuclear watchdog agency resigns. No reason provided for the move.

Elad Benari, Canada,

IAEA headquarters
IAEA headquarters

The chief of inspections at the UN nuclear watchdog agency resigned suddenly, the agency said on Friday without giving a reason, according to Reuters.

The departure of Tero Varjoranta comes at a sensitive time, three days after the United States announced it was quitting the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Varjoranta, a native of Finland, had been a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and head of its Department of Safeguards, which verifies countries’ compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, since October 2013.

He will be replaced in an acting capacity by the head of the department’s Iran team, the Vienna-based IAEA said.

“Mr. Tero Varjoranta has resigned effective 11 May 2018,” an IAEA spokesman said, as quoted by Reuters. “The director general has appointed Mr. Massimo Aparo, acting director, Office for Verification in Iran, as acting deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, effective immediately.”

“The agency’s safeguards activities will continue to be carried out in a highly professional manner,” the spokesman said.

Asked why Varjoranta had resigned, he said, “The agency cannot comment on personnel matters, which are confidential.” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano plans to appoint a permanent replacement as soon as possible, he added.

The IAEA, which is in charge of making sure Iran is complying with the 2015 deal, has released several reports which showed that Iran was continuing to abide by the deal's key measures.

In March, Amano said inspectors had had "access to all the sites and locations which we needed to visit" in Iran while warning against the deal falling apart.

On Thursday, officials in Washington said the White House wants inspections of Iran's nuclear sites to continue despite Trump's withdrawal from the deal.

Iran has in the past threatened to reconsider its cooperation with the IAEA if the United States failed to respect its commitments in the 2015 deal. It remains unclear how it will act now that Washington has pulled out, as other signatories to the deal have vowed to press ahead with the agreement's implementation.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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