US joins Israel in accusing Iran of covert nuclear activity
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US joins Israel in accusing Iran of covert nuclear activity

Pompeo says Tehran’s ‘lack of full cooperation’ with UN atomic agency raises questions about its commitment to 2015 deal, after Netanyahu unveils alleged nuke development site

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers a question from an audience member after giving a speech at the London Lecture series at Kansas State University Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers a question from an audience member after giving a speech at the London Lecture series at Kansas State University Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of “possible undeclared nuclear activities,” as the UN’s nuclear watchdog presses Tehran for answers on its atomic safeguards.

“The Iranian regime’s lack of full cooperation with @iaeaorg raises questions about possible undeclared nuclear material or activities,” Pompeo tweeted.

“The world won’t fall for it. We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Pompeo’s warning came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of having a previously undisclosed site outside the city of Abadeh aimed at developing nuclear weapons that it later destroyed.

It also came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran was installing advanced centrifuges as the troubled 2015 deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program threatens to fall apart.

The IAEA said in a statement Monday that on September 7 it had “verified that the following centrifuges were either installed or being installed…: 22 IR-4, one IR-5, 30 IR-6 and three IR-6s.”

IAEA head Cornel Feruta urged Iran to respond quickly to its concerns as the country abandons further agreed limits to its nuclear activities.

Acting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Cornel Feruta from Romania waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, August 1, 2019. (Ronald Zak/AP)

Addressing the IAEA quarterly board meeting a day after discussions with high-level officials in Tehran, Feruta said that in his meetings he “stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations.”

“Time is of the essence,” he added.

The IAEA reported its inspectors verified the installation of new centrifuges. The agency said all had been “prepared for testing” but none yet tested at the time of the Sept. 7-8 inspection.

The IAEA’s confirmation came a day after Tehran hit out at European powers, saying they had left Iran little option but to scale back its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran has been scaling back its commitments under the 2015 deal in response to US President Donald Trump’s pullout from the accord last year and reimposition of sanctions.

The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives.

In this photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, spokesman of the organization Behrouz Kamalvandi speaks in a news briefing as advanced centrifuges are displayed in front of him, in Tehran, Iran, September 7, 2019 (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

The other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, as well as the European Union — have been struggling to salvage the agreement and find a way to meet Tehran’s demands.

To put pressure on them, Iran has already pushed past limits in the deal on nuclear enrichment purity and stockpiles of enriched uranium.

In a live TV address Monday, Netanyahu said Iran destroyed the facility south of Isfahan, sometime between late June and late July after realizing that Israel had detected it.

“Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press regarding the Iranian nuclear program, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on September 9, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He provided no details or evidence of what those experiments were, but he showed off two satellite photos. The first, taken in June, showed the facility intact. The second, taken in July, showed parts of the building had been destroyed, in what he said was an Iranian cover-up after Israel discovered the facility.

“This is what I have to say to the tyrants of Tehran,” he said. “Israel knows what you’re doing, Israel knows when you’re doing it, and Israel knows where you’re doing it.”

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