US slams Iran over IAEA cooperation on nuclear sites

The acting head of the IAEA, Cornel Feruta, shakes hands with Ali Akbar Salehi, director of Iran's nuclear energy agency in Tehran, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2019

US slams Iran over IAEA cooperation on nuclear sites

  • International Atomic Energy Agency has called in recent days on Iran to step up its cooperation
  • US says any potential delay, denial, or deception by Iran must be addressed immediately

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday said it was “totally unacceptable” for Iran to drag its feet in cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog, which is seeking answers to issues that diplomats say include the discovery of uranium traces at an undeclared site.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers, has called in recent days on Iran to step up its cooperation, warning “time is of the essence.”
While the watchdog has declined to comment on what prompted the warning, diplomats told Reuters inspectors had found traces of uranium at a site in Iran which Israel has described as a “secret atomic warehouse.”

“Any indication that Iran is providing insufficient cooperation to the IAEA on a matter involving potential undeclared nuclear material or activities raises serious and profound questions,” the US statement to a quarterly IAEA Board of Governors meeting said.
“Iran’s failure to resolve the Agency’s concerns on this matter is completely unacceptable and should be of deep concern to all who support the IAEA and its safeguards verification regime.”
Iran has guaranteed the IAEA access to its nuclear program as part of a 2015 deal with world powers under which Tehran accepted curbs on its atomic activities in return for access to world trade.
The United States withdrew from the agreement last year and imposed sanctions on Iran with the aim of halting its oil exports and forcing Tehran to negotiate a more sweeping “comprehensive deal.”
Iran has said it will negotiate only if Washington lifts the sanctions. In the meantime, it has begun breaching some of the deal’s restrictions on its atomic activities, in what it calls a step-by-step, reversible response to the US withdrawal and the failure of European countries to protect it from US measures.
The IAEA’s acting chief Cornel Feruta has traveled to Tehran in recent days. He said his call to step up cooperation was “very well understood” by Iranian officials he met. His agency has declined to comment on the specifics of its questions as they are confidential.
“Any potential delay, denial, or deception by Iran that inhibits the IAEA’s essential safeguards verification work must be addressed immediately,” the US statement said.
“Refusal by Iran to do so will only underscore our concern that the matters before us may relate to serious questions regarding Iran’s compliance with its safeguards obligations.”

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of "possible undeclared nuclear activities,"


Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

Updated 53 min 13 sec ago

Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

BENGHAZI: Forces loyal to Libyan eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday they had killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks, a day after Turkey acknowledged it had lost several "martyrs" in combat in the north African country.
Khalid al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA), said the Turks were killed in the port city of Misrata, in battles in Tripoli and in the town of al-Falah south of the capital.
Turkey backs Libya's weak internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has sent Syrian soldiers along with some of its own soldiers and weapons.
Haftar's forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday acknowleged some Turkish losses in Libya's "struggle".
"We are there (in Libya) with our (Turkish) soldiers and our teams from the Syrian National Army. We continue the struggle there. We have several martyrs. In return, however, we neutralized nearly a hundred (of Haftar's) legionaries," Erdogan said.
The Syrian National Army, also known as Free Syrian Army, is a Turkey-backed Syrian rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria, where 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far this month.
The deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated air defences has erased small gains made by the LNA with the help of Russian mercenaries, returning the frontline roughly to where it was at start of Haftar's campaign in April 2019.
Ceasefire talks between Libya's warring sides resumed on Thursday after the GNA had pulled out of negotiations following the shelling of Tripoli's port by Haftar's forces.