The international nuclear energy watchdog has hit back at Israeli claims that it demonstrates “weakness” in its oversight of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
On Sunday Haaretz newspaper cited several anonymous Israeli officials as saying that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) failed to inspect suspicious sites in Iran after they were furnished with intelligence about them by an unidentified Western “entity”.
The officials told the paper that the site visits did not occur because the Vienna-based IAEA were rebuffed by Iran or did not even submit a request for access, with one official alleging that “there is simply a demonstration of weakness in the IAEA when it comes to Iran. The sense is that Iran allows what it wants, and does not allow what it does not want.”
“This article does not accurately reflect the safeguards work of the IAEA,” a spokesman for the organization said in a statement emailed to i24NEWS.
“As Director General Yukiya Amano has said, the IAEA has conducted many complementary accesses (CAs) in Iran since Implementation Day of the JCPOA [nuclear deal], and will continue to request access to sites and locations before drawing a broader conclusion for the country,” the spokesman added, without referring specifically to the claim it ignored information provided a Western “entity”.
Under the pact, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, inspectors can request “complementary access” to additional sites and Iran can delay access for a maximum of 24 days.
The officials quoted in the article said Iran routinely refuses, or extensively delays, requests for inspection.
The spokesman said under the agreement with Iran the agency “has broader access to information and locations” which “significantly increases the ability to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear material in a country. In Iran, as of today we have been able to visit, as planned, all sites and locations that we have identified for CAs.”
The Haaretz article came as the 2015 pact — in which Iran agreed to curb their nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief — is set to be at the forefront of discussions on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, with the US and Iran already trading barbs about each other’s commitment to the pact.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly lambasted the deal and in a July interview with the Wall Street Journal said he would be “surprised” if Iran was found to be in compliance when he next has to make a determination on the matter in October.
His envoy to the UN, Ambassador Nikki Haley, has also pressed the IAEA on carrying out further inspections in Iran during a visit to their headquarters in August.
The watchdog said in its most recent report on Iran that the Islamic Republic is meeting its commitments under the deal.
Shortly after a draft of the report was leaked, Haley said that “if inspections of Iranian military sites are ‘merely a dream,’ as Iran says, then Iranian compliance with the JCPOA is also a dream,” referring to an Iranian rebuff of inspection calls.
Following Haley’s visit to the IAEA, an official in the agency told Reuters news agency that they do not have intelligence to support additional probes and would not conduct inspections just to make a “political point”.
Also on Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that his country would not cave to US “bullying”.
“The corrupt, lying, deceitful US officials insolently accuse the nation of Iran… of lying, whereas the nation of Iran has acted honestly and will continue on this path until the end in an honest manner,” said Khamenei.