Nuclear agency urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site
Vienna (AFP) Nov 21, 2019 –
The UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, as a landmark deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s atomic activities threatens to collapse.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report seen by AFP last week that its inspectors had “detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency”.
The agency’s acting head Cornel Feruta told a press conference that an IAEA team of experts would meet Iranian officials in Tehran next week to discuss the matter, which Iran had so far failed to address “in the proper way”.
“The matter remains unresolved… It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly,” he said at a earlier meeting of the agency’s board of governors.
The particles are understood to be the product of uranium which has been mined and undergone initial processing, but not enriched.
While the IAEA has not named the site in question, diplomatic sources have previously said the agency asked Iran about a site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past.
Sources say the IAEA took samples from the site in the spring and that Iran has been slow in providing answers to explain the test results.
– ‘Wholly unacceptable’ –
US ambassador to the IAEA Jackie Wolcott said in her statement to the board that it was “wholly unacceptable” that Iran had failed to address the matter, which has occupied the IAEA since January.
The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers has been faltering since last year when the United States pulled out and started to reinstate punishing sanctions on Tehran, leaving the other signatories struggling to salvage the agreement.
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