JEDDAH/VIENNA: Tehran is facing a stinging rebuke by leaders of the UN’s atomic watchdog in a growing row over unexplained uranium particles found at three secret Iranian nuclear sites.
A resolution drafted by the US, France and Germany orders Iran to “immediately ... clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues” at the sites in Marivan, Varamin and Turquzabad, which Iran has never declared as having hosted nuclear activities.
The resolution will be consid- ered at the quarterly meeting of the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which begins on Monday. Its adoption would infuriate Iran, and almost certainly end hopes of reviving the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
Western powers had held off submitting a resolution on this issue to previous meetings of the agency’s board, to avoid derailing talks on the nuclear deal in Vienna — but those talks have been stalled since March.
The issue has now come to a head since the IAEA told member states this week that Iran had not given it credible answers on the particles found at the three sites, although both sides agreed in March to revive discussions aimed at resolving such open issues by now.
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Iran will “respond firmly and appropriately to any unconstructive action at the board of governors,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday.
“The responsibility for its consequences falls on the shoulders of those who see the board of governors and the director-general’s report as leverage and a tool of political games against Iran.”
The issue is one of the remaining obstacles to reviving the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for guarantees that it would be unable to develop a nuclear weapon.
The agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was torpedoed in 2018 by the administration of US President Donald Trump, which withdrew unilaterally and imposed sanctions on Iran.
Khatibzadeh said Israel was the “only nuke-possessor in the MENA region,” and it was time for the world powers who signed the original nuclear deal to “stop pretending to be asleep.” He said: “They can pursue diplomacy, or pursue the opposite. We’re ready for both.”
Khatibzadeh called on “countries such as France to refrain from taking positions and making interventions that would cause the cooperation to deviate from its proper path.”
These statements were aimed at putting “pressure on Iran on the eve of the meetings of the IAEA board of governors,” he said.
Tehran has condemned the UN watchdog’s latest report as “not fair and balanced,” and said it “does not reflect the reality of the negotiations between Iran and the IAEA.”