Security

UN nuclear watchdog denied 'indispensable' Iran access

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran director Mohammad Eslami (right) delivers a speech as IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi listens during the IAEA General Conference, an annual meeting of all the IAEA member states, at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on September 20. [Joe Klamar/AFP]

VIENNA, Austria -- The United Nations nuclear watchdog said Sunday (September 26) it had been denied "indispensable" access to a centrifuge component manufacturing workshop in Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was denied access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop contrary to its September 12 agreement with Iran, the agency said in a statement.

IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi "reiterates that all of the agency's activities referred to in the joint statement for all identified agency equipment and Iranian facilities and locations are indispensable in order to maintain continuity of knowledge", it said.

In his latest report on Iran, Grossi informed member states that the Islamic Republic had granted all other access between September 20 and 22.

Agency inspectors had been allowed to service monitoring and surveillance equipment and to replace storage media at "all necessary locations" except the TESA Karaj workshop, the statement said.

The IAEA issued a strongly worded report September 7 in which it said its monitoring tasks in Iran had been "seriously undermined" after Tehran suspended some of the agency's inspections of the country's nuclear activities.

It noted that one of the cameras at a centrifuge component workshop in the city of Karaj was destroyed and another "severely damaged".

Iranian state television and Tasnim news agency reported in June that a "sabotage operation" had been thwarted at a building near Karaj belonging to the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran.

In a thread on Twitter, Iranian IAEA envoy Kazem Gharibabadi claimed the TESA Karaj workshop was still "under security and judicial investigations" and was therefore not included for servicing.

The IAEA's latest report comes amid stalled negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement scaling back Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran's foreign minister said Friday that the talks to revive the deal would resume "very soon", but the United States responded by saying it was not sure what time frame Tehran had in mind.

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