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Iran says IAEA report on undeclared sites ‘not fair’

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran condemned as “not fair” yesterday a report by the United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog on traces of nuclear material found at three undeclared sites, as talks on reviving a 2015 deal remain deadlocked.

“Unfortunately, this report does not reflect the reality of the negotiations between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed

Khatibzadeh told reporters, referring to the Monday report by the IAEA.

“It’s not a fair and balanced report,” he said, adding: “We expect this path to be corrected.”

The IAEA’s report came as talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers have seen no major developments since March.

In the report, the watchdog said it still had questions which were “not clarified” regarding nuclear material previously found at three sites – Marivan, Varamin and Turquzabad – which had not been declared by Iran as having hosted nuclear activities.

It said its long-running efforts to get Iranian officials to explain the presence of nuclear material had failed to provide answers to its questions.

Iran and the IAEA agreed in March on an approach for resolving the issue of the sites, one of the remaining obstacles to reviving the 2015 deal.

Under the agreement, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is due to “report his conclusions” to the watchdog’s board of governors at a meeting scheduled for next week.

While most of the activities concerned are thought to date back to the early 2000s, sources say that one of the sites, in the Turquzabad district of Tehran, may have been used for storing uranium as recently as 2018.

Earlier, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, Mohammad Reza Ghaebi, said the report “does not reflect Iran’s extensive cooperation with the agency”.

“Iran considers this approach unconstructive to the current close relations and cooperation between the country and the IAEA,” he said, adding: “The agency should be aware of the destructive consequences of publishing such one-sided reports.”

In a separate report published on Monday, the IAEA estimated that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit agreed in the 2015 deal.

The agency “estimated that, as of May 15, 2022, Iran’s total enriched stockpile was 3,809.3 kilogrammes (kg).” The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 300kg of a specific compound, the equivalent of 202.8kg of uranium.

The agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, gave Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

But the pact was left hanging by a thread when United States (US) president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out in 2018 and re-imposed biting sanctions, prompting Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.

One of those commitments was that Iran should not enrich uranium to levels higher than 3.67 per cent.

Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20 per cent is now estimated to be 238.4kg, up 56.3kg since the last report in March, while the amount enriched to 60 per cent stands at 43.1kg, an increase of 9.9kg, the report said.

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