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UN Atomic Watchdog Urges Iran To Come Clean On Uranium Enrichment Program

The head of the UN atomic watchdog has called on Iran to provide explanations for the presence of uranium particles at several undeclared sites and to adhere to its legal obligations with regard to its nuclear program.

The lack of progress in clarifying the International Atomic Energy Agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations “seriously affects the ability of the agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature” of the country’s nuclear program, IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi told the IAEA board of governors in Vienna on September 13, according to a transcript posted on the agency’s website.

"I remain deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known to the agency. And I am increasingly concerned that, even after some two years, the safeguards issues outlined above in relation to the four locations in Iran not declared to the agency, remain unresolved," he said.

Western powers must decide whether to push for a resolution criticizing Iran and raising pressure on it for stonewalling the IAEA at the meeting of the agency's 35-country board of governors.

A resolution could jeopardize the resumption of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, as Tehran bristles at such moves.

Under the Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

But former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reintroducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded as of 2019 by breaching many of the deal's core restrictions, like enriching uranium to a higher purity, closer to that suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

Grossi reiterated that the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities have been "seriously undermined" since February, after Iran refused to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment.

The agency’s “confidence that it could maintain continuity of knowledge had been declining over time and had recently significantly further declined,” he said, adding: “This confidence could continue to decline unless the situation were immediately rectified by Iran.”

During Grossi's first visit to Iran since hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August, Iranian officials agreed on September 12 to allow international inspectors to service surveillance cameras at its sensitive nuclear sites and to continue filming there.

Upon arriving back in the Austrian capital, the IAEA chief said the agreement was "a measure to allow time for diplomacy" while stressing it was not "a permanent solution."

Talks between Iran and world powers over limiting Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief have been idle since June.

By RFE/RL

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