'Time is of the essence' in Iran co-operation: UN nuclear watchdog

Cheryl Sanders
September 11, 2019

As a third step to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal (JCPOA), the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Saturday it has activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.

The IAEA added in its statement that the centrifuges had been installed at Iran's Natanz facility and said "all of the installed centrifuges had been prepared for testing with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), although none of them were being tested with UF6 on 7 and 8 September 2019".

Reuters adds the IAEA did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Iranian officials. But officials blamed European leaders for being unable so far to offer a way for Iran to sell its crude oil around United States sanctions.

In a speech a year ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposed the deal, called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

While Iran continues to pull away from the deal, Tehran has made clear it wants IAEA inspectors to continue their work. Israeli and U.S. media have since reported that the samples turned up traces of radioactive material or matter - the same vague language used by Netanyahu.

Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons.

"There are lots of possible explanations", that diplomat told Reuters.

Mr Feruta, who held talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, said: "It is important to advance our interactions and, therefore, I also stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations".

Its collapse started with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the deal previous year and imposing increased sanctions.

Following the USA withdrawal, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the deal. Even when it comes to photos, Tehran always said that they have existed for a long time - in other words, Iran was waiting for Europe to take necessary measures and launch INSTEX.

"Israel knows what you're doing, Israel knows when you're doing it, and Israel knows where you're doing it", Netanyahu said.

The Islamic Republic's previous secrecy might explain why uranium traces were found at a location that was never declared to the IAEA.

Uranium traces could indicate, for example, the former presence of equipment or material somehow connected to those particles.

He is serving as the IAEA's acting director after the death of late director-general Yukiya Amano in July.

He said he emphasized to Iranian authorities "the importance of full and timely cooperation by Iran".

Tehran has scaled back its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the 2015 deal, after the USA scrapped the agreement in May 2018 and the European parties (the UK, France, and Germany) failed to ensure Iran's economic interests. But that move has been criticised by France, which says the Iranians are not acting correctly.

Iran has stopped observing some of limits set by the deal.

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