UN nuclear chief says view on Iran “blurred”

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Grossi’s insistence that the Vienna-based IAEA remain “an auditor” for the world came when negotiations in Vienna to revive the broken nuclear deal with Tehran stalled. Hours earlier, the head of Iran’s civil nuclear program had insisted that his country deny the agency access to a sensitive centrifuge assembly facility.

The Karaj plant was covered by what Iran describes as a sabotage attack in June. Tehran blamed Israel for the attack Expansion of the regional shadow war since former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Iran’s groundbreaking nuclear deal with the world powers. Iran has since denied access to the IAEA to replace damaged cameras in the incident.

“If through us, through the IAEA, the international community doesn’t see clearly how many centrifuges or what capacity they could have … what you have is a very blurry picture,” Grossi said. “It will give you the illusion of the real picture. But not the real picture. That is why this is so important. “

As “simply absurd” Grossi rejected an Iranian claim that saboteurs had used the IAEA cameras in the attack on the Karaj centrifuge site. Tehran has provided no evidence to support the claim, although it is yet another sign of friction between inspectors and Iran.

Since the collapse of the nuclear deal Tehran has started to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 60% – a short technical step from a weapon grade of 90%. The deal limited the enrichment to 3.67%, enough to be used in a power plant. The country’s supply of enriched uranium is growing every day well beyond the scope of the 2015 agreement in which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. It is also turning more and more advanced centrifuges, which are also excluded by the deal.

Grossi stressed that he was not involved in the political negotiations in Vienna, but admitted that Iran was making progress, as the failure of the agreement required changes to the original agreement.

“The reality is that we are dealing with a very different Iran,” he said. “2022 is so different from 2015 that adjustments need to be made to reflect these new realities so that our inspectors can review what countries are agreeing to at the political table.”

And while Iran insists that its program be peaceful, US intelligence agencies and the IAEA have stated that Iran ran an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003.

“There is no other country than those that manufacture nuclear weapons that achieve these high levels of uranium enrichment,” Grossi said of Iran. “I have said many times that this does not mean that Iran has a nuclear weapon. But it means that this area of ​​enrichment requires intensive verification effort. “

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Grossi’s statements.

In Vienna, however The fear among the European nations at the negotiating table is growing. The US has stayed away from face-to-face talks since the agreement was abandoned.

“Without rapid progress, the (deal) will very soon be an empty shell, given the fast-forwarding of its nuclear program through Iran,” they warned in an overnight statement.

Apparently in response to the criticism, Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani wrote on Twitter: “Some actors persist in their habit of blaming rather than real diplomacy.”

But the Iranian negotiators, who have re-entered the talks for the first time in months The newly elected hardline president Ebrahim Raisi has taken maximalist positions. Bagheri Kani himself described six previous rounds of negotiations with a team under the former President Hassan Rouhani as a mere “draft”.

When asked about the difference between the two governments, Grossi said that “the change is palpable”.

“The President himself and the people around him have made it very clear that they have views on the program,” he said. “They have strong views on Iran’s interactions” with both the IAEA and the parties to the nuclear deal.

He also described the cooperation with the Raisi government as “slower than expected”.

“We were able to start this relationship pretty late, I would say,” said Grossi.

Meanwhile, satellite photos obtained from the AP are showing ongoing construction work in the mountain south of the Iranian nuclear facility Natanz, twice the target of alleged Israeli attacks. Another above-ground facility is being built in Iran’s Fordo underground facility, which also started uranium enrichment in the midst of the Vienna talks in order to defy the nuclear agreement.

Grossi said Iran has informed the IAEA of ongoing construction work and its inspectors are “tracking” the progress at the sites.

At the regional level, Saudi Arabia has started researching nuclear power. Unlike the United Arab Emirates – which has a strict agreement with the US that ensures they don’t enrich their own uranium – Saudi Arabia wants a centrifuge program. That carries the risk of nuclear proliferation as the kingdom has threatened to rush to find a nuclear weapon if Iran receives one. Grossi described the talks between Riyadh and the IAEA as “very positive”.

And in Israel, which was long considered a nuclear armed state, a massive construction project on his secret nuclear reactor near Dimona. continueswhich is not subject to the supervision of the IAEA. Iran, in view of scrutiny of Tehran’s civilian program, often refers to the Israeli arms program as an international double standard.

When asked about Israel, Grossi said: “I think the international community wants every country to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and put all facilities under the protection of the IAEA.”

He stressed the importance of ensuring that IAEA inspectors have full control over and access to Iran’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program.

“The problem is that the moment that ability is restored, the inspectors come back and put the puzzle back together,” he said. “There can be gaps. And these gaps are not good. “


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