Iran on Tuesday condemned a report by the UN nuclear watchdog on “signs of nuclear material” found at three undeclared sites.
The comments come as talks between Tehran and the world power stalled since March on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Unfortunately, this report does not reflect the reality of the negotiations between Iran and the IAEA,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters, citing a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.
“This is not a fair and balanced report,” he said. “We hope this path will be corrected.”
In the report, Watchdog said it still had questions that had not been “clarified” about the nuclear material previously found on three sites – Marivan, Varamin and Turkuabad – which did not announce that Iran had conducted nuclear activities.
It says long-running efforts by Iranian officials to explain the presence of nuclear material have failed to answer their questions.
Iran and the IAEA agreed in March on a mechanism to resolve the site issue, one of the remaining obstacles to reviving the 2015 agreement. IAEA chief Rafael Gracie will “report on his decision” to the Watchdog’s board of governors at a meeting scheduled for next week.
Officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement freed Iran from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for sanctions on its nuclear activities.
The then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed the bite ban, persuading Iran to start backtracking on its own promises.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is in favor of returning to the agreement, including lifting key sanctions, but has rejected Iran’s demand that the elite Revolutionary Guards blacklist Trump.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States had “full confidence and trust in the IAEA and Grossi.”
“Iran must cooperate fully with the IAEA without further delay,” he told reporters in Washington.
The parties to the deal with Iran saw this as the best way to prevent them from building a nuclear bomb – a goal Tehran has always denied.
– Iran sees Israel’s hand –
Although most of the activity discussed in the IAEA report is believed to be from the early 2000s, sources say a site in Tehran’s Turkujabad district could be used to store uranium in 2018.
Iran has seen an Israeli hand in the latest IAEA investigation.
Khatibzadeh said: “It is feared that political pressure from the Zionist regime and some other actors has turned the normal way of reporting from technical to political,” Khatibzadeh said.
Israel on Tuesday accused its arch-enemy Iran of stealing confidential documents from the IAEA to hide evidence of its nuclear program.
Israel strongly opposes the 2015 nuclear deal and any attempt to restore it.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter that “Iran has stolen confidential documents from the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA and used that information to systematically evade a nuclear investigation.”
“How do we know? Because we got our hands on a plan to deceive Iran,” Bennett wrote. His tweet included links to eight documents in English and Persian, as well as photographs.
The files were part of a cache taken in 2018 by Israeli agents from a warehouse in Iran.
Mohammad Reza Ghaibi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, had previously said that the IAEA report “does not reflect Iran’s extensive cooperation with the IAEA”.
“The agency should be aware of the devastating consequences of publishing such unilateral reports.”
– Dispute over revival of agreement –
In a separate report released on Monday, the IAEA estimated that Iran’s rich uranium reserves had increased more than 18 times the limits agreed in the 2015 agreement.
Iran wants to lift all sanctions after Trump withdraws in 2018.
“The talks have stalled because Iran and Europe have not responded to the proposed initiative,” Khatibzadeh said.
Price replied that the United States was ready to return to the treaty “immediately” and that – for the time being – it continued to do so “in our national interest.”
“It ultimately depends on Iran whether the claims go beyond the JCPOA and remain in good faith.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)