VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it could not guarantee the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, saying there had been “no progress” in resolving questions over the past presence of nuclear material at undeclared sites.

In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful”.

It said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi was “increasingly concerned that Iran has not engaged with the agency on the outstanding safeguards issues during this reporting period and, therefore, that there has been no progress towards resolving them”.

The IAEA has been pressing Iran for answers on the presence of nuclear material at three undeclared sites and the issue led to a resolution criticising Iran being passed at the June meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

Tehran, which maintains that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful, again insisted this week that the IAEA probe would have to be concluded in order to revive the 2015 deal on its nuclear programme with world powers.

In the report, Grossi called “upon Iran to fulfil all of its legal obligations” in clearing up the outstanding questions about the three sites.

In another report also issued on Wednesday, the IAEA addressed Iran’s decision in June to disconnect 27 cameras allowing the agency’s inspectors to monitor its nuclear activities.

The removal of the cameras has had “detrimental implications for the agency’s ability to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”, the report said.

Stalled talks

The latest reports come as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which appeared to make some progress last month, remain stalled.

The accord began unravelling when former US president Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and went on to reimpose crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

In return, Tehran began abandoning the deal’s limits on its nuclear programme, including on its enriched uranium stockpile.

The IAEA says the stockpile is now an estimated 3,940 kilograms, over 19 times the limit set out in the accord.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2022

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