Iran demands IAEA drops 'baseless' claims of undeclared nuclear sites

Tehran keen to move on from scrutiny regarding nature of its work at undeclared sites

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. AFP
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The UN nuclear watchdog should drop its issues regarding three undeclared sites, Iran's foreign minister said on Thursday as momentum builds to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

The US insists that Tehran should co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to clear up suspicions about earlier work at three undeclared sites.

The IAEA's board of governors adopted a resolution in June that censured Iran for failing to adequately explain the discovery of traces of enriched uranium at three sites not declared by Tehran as having hosted nuclear activities.

"We are very serious about safeguard issues and do not want to allow some of the IAEA's baseless accusations to remain," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state news agency Irna.

The issue has poisoned relations between the IAEA and Iran, which considers the matter to be "political in nature, and which should not be used as a pretext to punish Iran", an Iranian diplomat told Irna.

The comments come a day after the US responded to Iran's proposals on reviving the landmark agreement from which former president Donald Trump pulled out in 2018.

"We are in the process of examining the response of the Americans," Mr Amirabdollahian said.

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Just weeks after the deal looked dead, the EU put forward on August 8 what it called a final text to restore the agreement, in which Iran would see sanctions relief and be able to sell its oil again in return for severe limits on its nuclear programme.

Iran came back last week with a series of proposed changes, to which the US formally responded on Wednesday, a day after Tehran accused it of stonewalling.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US — gave Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

The deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which it has always denied wanting to do.

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This week, a senior US official said that Iran had lifted its block on certain IAEA inspections.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Thursday that the US had insisted to Iran "in public and in private" that it answer the IAEA.

"We've also been clear that we do not believe there should be any conditionality between reimplementation of the JCPOA and the investigations related to Iran's legal obligations," Mr Patel said.

Updated: August 26, 2022, 12:16 AM