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Iran spurns calls to allow inspection of nuclear site allegedly struck by Israel

‘Countries that did not condemn terrorist acts against Iran’s nuclear site are not qualified to comment on inspections there,’ Tehran’s nuclear chief says

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Mohammad Eslami, walks in the presidency compound, April 7, 2021, in Tehran, Iran (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Mohammad Eslami, walks in the presidency compound, April 7, 2021, in Tehran, Iran (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran on Tuesday rejected calls to allow inspectors access to one of its nuclear sites after the European Union and United States both urged it to do so.

“Countries that did not condemn terrorist acts against Iran’s nuclear site are not qualified to comment on inspections there,” Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said while visiting Moscow.

The TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop near Tehran was the site of a sabotage incident in June, which Iran blamed on Israel. Without disclosing details, Iranian authorities acknowledged that the alleged strike had damaged the building.

Tehran has argued that the facility was exempt from a recent inspections agreement with the United Nations watchdog.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday that it had been denied “indispensable” access to the wite, contrary to a September 12 agreement with Iran.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi on Monday rejected the charge on Twitter.

“During the discussions in Tehran and Vienna, Iran indicated that… equipment related to this Complex are not included for servicing,” he wrote, referring to IAEA work on its surveillance equipment.

The alleged Karaj centrifuge parts plant near Karaj, Iran, seen in a photo posted online by Google user Edward Majnoonian, in May 2019. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

Sunday’s IAEA statement “isn’t accurate and goes beyond the agreed terms,” he added.

At a Vienna meeting of the IAEA board of governors, the EU said that it urged Iran to allow access “without any further delay,” expressing its “deepest concern.”

“This is a worrying development,” the statement said.

The US likewise said it was “deeply troubled” and urged access “without further delay.”

“If Iran fails to do so, we will be closely consulting with other board members in the coming days on an appropriate response,” Louis Bono, the US representative to the IAEA, said without giving further details.

The agreement between the IAEA and Iran came days after the nuclear watchdog had decried a lack of cooperation from Tehran.

Agency inspectors had been allowed to service monitoring and surveillance equipment and to replace storage media at “all necessary locations” except the TESA Karaj workshop, the IAEA said on Sunday.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the media after his arrival at the Vienna International Airport, in Schwechat near Vienna, Austria, on September 12, 2021. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi in his latest report on Iran informed member states that the Islamic republic had granted all other access from September 20–22.

The IAEA’s latest report comes amid stalled EU-brokered negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement scaling back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

That deal started to fall apart in 2018 when the United States withdrew from it and reinstated sanctions. Iran in turn again started to ramp up its nuclear activities.

Talks began in April in Vienna between Tehran and the remaining five parties to the 2015 deal, aimed at bringing Washington back into the agreement.

But that dialogue has been stalled since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.

Iran’s foreign minister said on Friday that talks would restart “very soon,” but the US has called for a clear timetable.

“[It’s] important #ViennaTalks resume asap from where we left off on 20 June,” Vienna-based EU Ambassdor Stephan Klement wrote on Twitter on Monday.

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