An IAEA inspection reveals an irregular modification in a uranium production facility and Tehran responds that it is an inspector’s error
France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have jointly criticized the recent discovery, by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of the secret modification of nuclear facilities in Iran for the production of highly enriched uranium and accuse the Iranian government of raising the risk of nuclear proliferation.
In a joint statement, the governments of the four countries maintain that the change “is incompatible” with the obligations assumed by Iran under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, recalling that the production of highly enriched uranium entails significant risks. The IAEA, the UN agency in charge of verifying the peaceful nature of nuclear activities, drew Tehran’s attention on Wednesday after noting a change in its mode of operation to enrich uranium to 60% at the Fordo underground plant, not previously noted. . The agency claims to have “detected during a surprise visit on January 21 that two cascades of centrifuges were interconnected in a significantly different way.” Iran said this was a “mistake” by an IAEA inspector.
“Iran’s claims are inadequate,” Washington, Paris, London and Berlin respond in their statement. “Iran’s actions are judged based on objective and impartial IAEA reports, not on the basis of its presumed intentions,” they added. Western countries believe that the modification of Iranian facilities is “incompatible with Iran’s obligations” and that “The lack of prior notification compromised the IAEA’s ability to maintain a rapid detection capability regarding Iranian nuclear facilities.” Fordo has been closely watched since Iran began producing 60% enriched uranium there in November 2022, a threshold well above the 3.67% threshold set by the 2015 deal between Tehran and the great powers.
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