UN: Iran fails to provide ‘credible’ responses to material in undeclared locations

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said Monday Iran still has not provided satisfactory answers about the presence of uranium in three plants.

“Iran has not provided any statements that are technically credible regarding the agency’s findings at three undeclared locations in Iran,” Grossi said Monday at a quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Directors in Vienna.

“Iran has also not informed the agency of the current location or locations of the nuclear material and/or nuclear-material-contaminated equipment brought out of Turquzabad in 2018,” he said.

Grossi noted that in order for the IAEA “to be able to provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, the IAEA stands ready to immediately resume cooperation with Iran to resolve these matters.”

In his remarks, which focused primarily on Ukraine, Grossi made no mention of his recent trip to Israel and meetings with Israeli officials. On Thursday, Grossi landed in Tel Aviv for a brief visit and met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett before returning to Vienna.

Bennett warned Grossi that Iran is pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon while misleading the world with “false information and lies” to cover up its work. The IAEA chief tweeted after their meeting that he and Bennett had “important exchanges on topical issues.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets with Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, June 3, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Major European countries and the United States are expected to seek to censure Iran at the IAEA meeting amid stalled talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The resolution, drafted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany, is a sign of their growing impatience as diplomats warn the window to salvage the landmark deal is closing. If the resolution is passed calling for Iran to cooperate “fully” with the IAEA, it will be the first request to censure Tehran since June 2020.

Talks to revive the deal began in April 2021 with the goal of bringing the United States back into the deal and lifting sanctions again and getting Iran to scale back its enhanced nuclear program.

The landmark 2015 deal – which promised lifting of Tehran sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program – began to fall apart in 2018 when then-US President Donald Trump backed away from it.

Talks to revive the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, have stalled in recent months. The talks’ coordinator, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, warned in a tweet this weekend that the possibility of a return to the deal was “shrinking”.

“But we can still do it with an extra effort,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, Grossi also said the IAEA was working to send an international team of experts to visit the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, which is now under the control of the invading Russian force, Reuters reported.

A Russian soldier stands guard in an area of ​​the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in an area under Russian military control in southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022. (AP Photo)

Grossi said he intended to lead such a mission if it could be arranged, and warned that data on nuclear materials would not be shared with the IAEA as intended after Russia occupied the site in the south-east of the country.

“We are developing the modalities to send such a mission; other considerations should not prevent this important international mission,” he said, according to the report.

For months, the IAEA has been concerned about the security situation in Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Workers there are under the direction of Russia. Ukraine has shared with the IAEA its concerns about the supply of spare parts to Zaporizhia.

“I have taken note of the Ukrainian government’s appeal,” said Grossi.

Russian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the Zaporizhia region on Sunday, where he received a combat report, thanked troops and met with refugees in only his second public visit outside of the Kiev region since the war began.

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