IAEA concerned about Iran’s veto of inspectors

Albert Otti

Vienna (dpa) – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday that Iran has complicated its work in the country by repeatedly vetoing certain nuclear inspectors.

It was only one example of the lack of cooperation the agency reported, three months after the United Nations Security Council decided on another round of sanctions targeting the Islamic republic.

Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said in the report that Iran has continued to enrich uranium despite the UN Security Council’s orders to stop, and has made 2,803 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.

According to experts, this amounts to nearly enough material for three nuclear warheads, if it were processed further. The figure mentioned in the previous report in May corresponded to roughly two weapons. Iran denies having any such plans and says it needs to enrich for fuelling power reactors.

Amano also said Iran urgently needs to shed light on past activities that were possibly related to developing nuclear arms by granting access to officials, documents and sites.

Regarding the inspectors, Iran is legally allowed to reject the agency’s list of these designated experts. But a senior diplomat familiar with the investigation said the latest rejection of two persons on the list “makes work more difficult.”

For one, it takes time to train new experts, the diplomat said, adding that inspectors might also feel increasing pressure that they could be kicked out.

Iran made clear in June that it struck the two experts off the list as a reaction to media stories containing leaked details of the previous IAEA report.

“The agency rejects the basis upon which Iran has sought to justify its objection,” Amano wrote.

His report noted that Iran is not making much overall progress in expanding its uranium enrichment capacity, neither at the Natanz facility, nor at the new enrichment plant in Fordow that is still under construction.

Work at Fordow has been progressing slowly, and key equipment has not yet been installed, the diplomat said. “Each time inspectors go there, there are a couple of people working,” he added.

More progress has been made at Iran’s first nuclear power plant in Bushehr, where loading of nuclear fuel began last month.