By Jubin Katiraie
The Iranian authorities detained a United Nations nuclear inspector and seized her travel documents, according to diplomats close to the UN agency on Wednesday, some of whom described the incident as harassment. This is reportedly the first time this has happened since the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers,
formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities.
Iran said that it prevented an inspector from accessing its Natanz site, which is the hub of its uranium enrichment program, last week over fears might be carrying “suspicious material”.
This matter, which comes during high tensions between Iran and the West because of Iran’s violations of the JCPOA, will be reported on at an emergency meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board of Governors today and one Western official said that the agency wants to show that they are taking this seriously.
One European diplomat said: “There is a real concern that it will harm how (the IAEA) carry out their inspections in the future.”
The deal allows for 130-150 IAEA inspectors to be granted “regular access [to Iranian nuclear sites], including daily access as requested by the IAEA, to relevant buildings at Natanz”.
#Iran Regime’s Deadline Approaches
Iran issued a 60-day deadline earlier this year to the three European signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (#JCPOA) and to China and Russia. It announced that they wanted these countries to come up…https://t.co/18MvxlTxHn pic.twitter.com/SAWf7dSTAE
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) June 8, 2019
Also, during the meeting, Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA will be discussed, especially with regards to uranium traces found at Turqazabad, a secret site in Tehran that Iran said was a carpet-cleaning facility and some governments called a “secret atomic warehouse”. This comes two months after the positive samples were reported by Reuters.
The IAEA told member states that Iran’s explanations did not make sense and its acting chief told Iran in September to answer the watchdog’s questions quickly.
Iran went even further on Wednesday, announcing that it would be enriching uranium at Fordow, a nuclear site built in a mountain, even though the banned enrichment there.
This is the fourth such breach so far this year by the Iranian government. They already increased its stockpile of enriched uranium over 300 kilograms, increased uranium purity to above 3.67%, and started using advanced centrifuges for enrichment rather than research.
The European Union has warned Iran that its support for the nuclear deal depends on Iran’s compliance, with the representative for EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, saying that they urged Iran “to reverse such steps without delay and to refrain from other measures that would undermine the nuclear deal”.