US, allies denounce Iran’s ‘inadequate’ response to IAEA report

Nuclear watchdog says it detected 2 centrifuge cascades at Fordo facility interconnected in ‘a significantly different way’ to what Tehran declared

A satellite image from September 15, 2017, of the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)
A satellite image from September 15, 2017, of the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

The United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany on Friday denounced Iran’s “inadequate” responses to a call to order from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on an undeclared technical modification in its nuclear program.

The UN body responsible for verifying the peaceful nature of nuclear activities called Tehran to order on Wednesday after noting a change in the operating mode for enriching uranium to 60 percent in the Fordo underground plant, which had not been previously reported.

Iran had referred to an error of “carelessness” by an IAEA inspector.

“Iran’s claims that these actions were the result of an error are inadequate,” Washington, Paris, London and Berlin responded in a joint statement.

“Iran’s actions are judged on the basis of objective and impartial reports by the IAEA, not on the basis of its presumed intentions,” they added.

The agency claims to have “detected during an unannounced visit on January 21 that two centrifuge cascades were interconnected in a significantly different way” to what had been declared by Tehran, according to a report.

Western countries said on Friday that this change was “inconsistent with Iran’s obligations” and that “this lack of prior notification compromises the Agency’s ability to maintain a rapid detection capability on Iranian nuclear facilities.”

“We recall that the production of highly enriched uranium by Iran at the Fordo enrichment facility carries significant proliferation risks and has no credible civilian justification,” they insisted, judging Tehran’s actions “worrying.”

The Fordo site has been closely monitored since Iran began producing 60% enriched uranium there in November 2022, in addition to the Natanz site.

This threshold greatly exceeds that of 3.67% set by the 2015 agreement between Tehran and the major powers and is approaching the 90% necessary to produce an atomic bomb.

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