IAEA chief demands 'clarifications' from Iran

Head of UN nuclear watchdog says Iran must cooperate in a clearer manner with the agency's inspectors.

Elad Benari ,

Rafael Grossi
Rafael Grossi

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's atomic watchdog, on Tuesday sounded the alarm at Iran's cooperation with the agency and demanded "clarifications" over an undeclared site in Tehran where uranium particles were found late last year.

Rafael Grossi, the new head of the IAEA who was in Paris to meet President Emmanuel Macron, told AFP, "Iran must decide to cooperate in a clearer manner with the agency to give the necessary clarifications."

"The fact that we found traces (of uranium) is very important. That means there is the possibility of nuclear activities and material that are not under international supervision and about which we know not the origin or the intent. That worries me," Grossi added.

The IAEA has for months been pressing Tehran for information about the kind of activities being carried out at an undeclared site where the uranium particles were found.

While the IAEA has not identified the site in question, it is believed to be the Turquzabad facility which was identified by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his address before the UN General Assembly in 2018 as a "secret atomic warehouse."

Reports last April indicated that the IAEA had inspected the secret atomic warehouse. Subsequent reports said the facility was found to contain traces of uranium.

In addition, according to a report issued by the IAEA on Tuesday, "the Agency identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations in Iran."

At one of them the report said the IAEA had from early July 2019 observed "activities... consistent with effort to sanitize part of the location."

A diplomatic source said that the three locations were separate to Turquzabad.

A second report from the agency detailed Iran's current breaches of several parts of a landmark 2015 international deal on scaling back its nuclear program.

The report showed Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at more than five times the limit fixed under the accord.

It said that as of February 19, 2020 the Iranian stockpile stood at the equivalent of 1,510 kilograms, as opposed to the 300 kg limit set under the agreement.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

The latest IAEA reports come just days after a meeting in Vienna of the remaining parties to the deal ended without a clear plan to keep the accord alive.

Britain, France and Germany have attempted to save the agreement, but recently triggered the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal that could eventually lead to reimposing UN sanctions on Iran.