Report: UN inspected Iran's 'secret atomic warehouse'

Sources say IAEA inspected a site which PM Netanyahu warned was a "secret atomic warehouse" in Tehran.

Elad Benari ,

IAEA headquarters
IAEA headquarters

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which polices Iran’s nuclear deal, has inspected what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran, three diplomats familiar with the agency’s work told Reuters on Thursday.

In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly this past September, Netanyahu called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

Netanyahu argued the warehouse showed Tehran still sought to obtain nuclear weapons, despite its 2015 pact with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for a loosening of sanctions.

At the time, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano released a statement dismissing Netanyahu’s concerns, in which he asserted that the IAEA has checked “all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” and that the IAEA "does not take any information at face value."

However, one of the three diplomats on Thursday told Reuters, “They’ve visited the site.” The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and details of inspections are confidential.

One of the diplomats said the IAEA had been to the site more than once last month. The others said the agency had been there, without specifying when. The IAEA declined to comment.

“We have nothing to hide and any access given to the IAEA so far has been in the framework of laws and regulations and nothing beyond that,” an Iranian official told Reuters.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran declined to comment. Iran has said the site is a carpet-cleaning facility.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

The IAEA has released several reports which have confirmed that Iran has been adhering to the 2015 deal with world powers. The last such report was released in February.

Last May, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal and has since then imposed two rounds of sanctions against Iran.

Iran, angry over the US withdrawal from the deal, has threatened several times that it will begin uranium enrichment beyond previous levels if the remaining parties fail to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal.