Iran Providing Access to Active Nuclear Sites: UN Watchdog

Iran Providing Access to Active Nuclear Sites: UN Watchdog
Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi from Argentina, talks prior to the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, on March 9, 2020. (Ronald Zak/AP Photo)

Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its active nuclear facilities, even after its announcement it was no longer bound by “any restrictions” of the landmark 2015 deal with world powers designed to prevent the country from producing a nuclear weapon, the head of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said on March 9.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told board members in Vienna that since Tehran’s Jan. 5 announcement it appears that Iran hasn’t escalated its violations of the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“The agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in connection with this announcement, or in the level of cooperation by Iran in relation to agency verification and monitoring activities under the JCPOA,” Grossi said in prepared remarks.

In recent months, Iran has violated all main provisions of the pact, increasing its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water past its limits, adding prohibited centrifuges, and enriching uranium past the purity allowed.

Hassan Rouhani nuclear achievements
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony to mark “National Nuclear Day,” in Tehran, Iran on April 9, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office/File Photo via AP)

Last week, the agency said in a report to member nations that its inspectors had confirmed that Iran had nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November in violation of the nuclear deal.

The stockpile of 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) of low-enriched uranium puts Iran within reach of the amount needed to produce a nuclear weapon, which it insists it doesn’t want to do. Prior to the nuclear deal, in 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment, but it didn’t pursue a bomb.

The JCPOA, signed by Iran with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China, and Russia, allows a stockpile of only 202.8 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.

The JCPOA promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, but since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal unilaterally in 2018 and imposed new sanctions, the country’s economy has been struggling.

Its violations of the pact are intended to pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for the American sanctions. So far, attempts by the other members of the JCPOA have fallen short of Iran’s demands.

Helga Schmid, Abbas Araghchi
The European Union’s political director Helga Schmid (L) and Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi wait for a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, Austria, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Roland Zak/AP Photo)

In a separate report to members last week, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers.

The activities at those locations are believed to have dated from the early 2000s, before the nuclear deal, and Iran responded to the report by suggesting that the IAEA had no legal basis to inspect those sites.

In his speech to the board members, Grossi called on “Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the agency.”

“The agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran,” Grossi said, according to his prepared remarks. “The agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the agency’s questions.”

By Philipp Jenne and David Rising

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