EghtesadOnline: Iran said a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows the UN nuclear watchdog has kept up its monitoring and verification process inside the country concerning the 2015 nuclear deal.
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, was speaking to reporters on Tuesday, after the IAEA issued two reports—a regular report on Tehran’s current nuclear program and the other detailing what it claims to be Tehran’s denial of access to two sites the agency wanted to visit, IRNA reported.
IAEA is tasked with monitoring the technical implementation of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and six major world powers—the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany—in 2015, according to Financial Tribune.
IAEA’s regular report “once again confirms that the agency’s verification activities on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have been going on since January 16, 2016,” when the deal took effect, the official said.
The US unilaterally abandoned JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the accord. Under Washington’s pressure, the three European signatories to JCPOA have so far failed to fulfill their contractual obligations to protect Tehran’s business interests against the sanctions.
In response, Iran began last May to gradually reduce its commitments as part of its legal rights under JCPOA to both retaliate against Washington’s departure and prompt the European powers to respect their obligations toward Tehran.
The country has so far taken five steps away from the deal under IAEA’s supervision, but says its countermeasures are reversible if the other parties begin to fulfill their side of the agreement.
Details of New Report
On the latest IAEA report, Gharibabadi said the document shows Iran is continuing UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) activities at the Fordow nuclear plant and that the country’s level of enrichment stands at 4.5%. Tehran began enriching uranium to purity rates beyond the JCPOA limit of 3.76% as part of its second step away from the accord.
As part of its fourth step in November 2019, Iran said it had officially started injecting gas into hundreds of centrifuges at the underground Fordow plant. The operation started with the transfer of a 2,800-kilogram cylinder containing 2,000 kilograms of UF6 from Natanz nuclear facility to Fordow, near the city of Qom, where 1,044 centrifuges are installed.
JCPOA allowed the first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at Fordow to spin without uranium gas.
Gharibabadi added that as confirmed by the IAEA report, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, as of Feb. 19, 2020, had reached 1,020.9 kilograms, well beyond the 202.8 kilograms cap set by JCPOA.
Iran stopped observing that limit as part of its first commitment reduction step.
The official said the IAEA report also acknowledged that Iran has installed new centrifuges based on its own steps to curb JCPOA compliance.
Iran launched advanced centrifuges to boost the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium and activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes as part of the third stage of its commitment suspension.
“This report emphasizes that Iran still continues to voluntarily and temporarily implement the Additional Protocol; and the verification of non-diversion of the declared material and activities in Iran will continue,” the Iranian envoy added.
Call for Clarification
In another report released on Tuesday, IAEA repeated the claim that 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.
It said it had sent questions to Iran in three separate letters, but received no response.
“The agency identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that had not been declared by Iran,” the agency said in the report.
Commenting on the claims, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi demanded Iran’s “clarifications” over the alleged undeclared sites.
Grossi told AFP that “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,” the IAEA’s head claimed.
IAEA has not specified the origin of the allegation, but since April 2018, the US and Israel have been busy making a fuss about unsubstantiated Israel-sourced allegations about the so-called undeclared nuclear activity.
Iran has repeatedly warned the agency against attempts by the US and Israel—a staunch opponent of diplomacy with Iran—to put pressure on IAEA with the goal of killing the nuclear accord.