Nuclear watchdog: Iran blocking access to two sites

The UN nuclear watchdog has expressed serious concern at Iran’s failure to grant it access to two suspect locations for more than four months. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2020

Nuclear watchdog: Iran blocking access to two sites

  • Iran increasingly in contravention with terms of nuclear deal
  • The country's uranium stockpile nearly eight times higher than the level agreed in 2015 deal

LONDON: The UN nuclear watchdog has expressed serious concern at Iran’s failure to grant it access to two suspect locations for more than four months.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had blocked inspections at two locations that it believed were active long before the internationally brokered 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
According to the report, the agency has questions regarding the possible “use or storage of nuclear material” at the two sites and claims that one of them “may have been used for the processing and conversion of uranium ore including fluorination in 2003.”
In an unreleased report expected to be published mid-June the Vienna-based IAEA expresses “serious concern” that the agency was barred from entering the sites.
The nuclear watchdog also said Tehran had not clarified its response to their questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.
In a separate report, the agency also noted that as of May 20 Iran had a stockpile of 1,571.6 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, nearly eight times the 202.8 kilogram limit agreed as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has rapidly accumulated uranium in 2020, with their stockpile growing by 550 kilograms since Feb. 19.
The stockpile’s highest level of enrichment now stands at 4.5 percent — breaching the 2015 agreement’s 3.67 percent limit.
In July 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the US, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union, which curbed Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return for economic incentives.
Under the deal, Tehran agreed that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
Iran also agreed to a monitoring regime that would allow international inspectors to gain access to sites suspected of nuclear weapons-related activities.
The IAEA’s latest findings come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the USA, which withdrew from the deal, with President Trump calling it the “worst deal ever.”


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”