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Iran Turns Off Monitoring Devices Ahead Of Nuclear Watchdog's Vote On Censure

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda June 08, 2022

Iran turned off cameras used by UN inspectors to monitor uranium enrichment hours before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution criticizing the Islamic republic for failing to cooperate.

The move by Iran's atomic agency came in anticipation of ratification of the censure on June 8 at a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna.

The resolution criticizing Iran for failing to explain uranium traces found at three undeclared sites was approved by 30 members of the IAEA board, with only Russia and China voting against it, according to news agency reports quoting unidentified diplomats.

France, Britain, Germany, and the United States called on Iran to comply with the IAEA without further delay to avoid any future action after the resolution passed

"We urge Iran to heed the call of the international community to fulfill its legal obligations, and cooperate with the IAEA to fully clarify and resolve issues without further delay," a joint statement said.

"If Iran does this and the Director General is able to report that the unresolved safeguards issues are no longer outstanding, we would see no need for further Board consideration and action on these issues," it said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter that his country's response to the IAEA's resolution is "firm & proportionate" and "the initiators are responsible for the consequences."

Khatibzadeh said the United States and its three European allies "put their shortsighted agenda ahead of IAEA's credibility by pushing a miscalculated & ill-advised [resolution] against a country [with] the world's most transparent peaceful nuclear program."

The disabling of the cameras was announced earlier in a statement from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the country's civilian nuclear arm.

"As of today, the relevant authorities have been instructed to cut off the On-Line Enrichment Monitor and the flow meter cameras of the agency," the organization said.

The statement added that Iran's agreement to allow the cameras to run was not "appreciated" by the UN agency but considered an "obligation."

It did not specify how many cameras had been turned off, but said "more than 80 percent of the agency's existing cameras are operating according to the safeguard agreement and will continue to operate just as before."

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Iranian atomic energy organization, also accused the IAEA of "noncooperation" and "malice."

"Given the extensive cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, unfortunately, the IAEA's conduct has not been appropriate," he said.

The resolution, formally submitted by the United States, Britain, Germany, and France, expressed concern about Iran's "three undeclared locations" and cited Iran's refusal to "cooperate sufficiently" with the IAEA over the sites.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi has criticized Iran for failing to provide "credible information" about the unexplained nuclear material discovered at the three sites, which has long been a point of contention between the agency and Tehran.

U.S. Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate identified the sites in comments on June 8 to the IAEA's board as Marivan, Turquzabad, and Varamin. Iran has denied carrying out nuclear work at these locations.

Holgate urged Iran to cooperate with UN inspectors and said that moving forward with the censure would "hold Iran accountable."

Iran's nuclear organization's chief, Mohammad Eslami, said earlier on June 8 that "Iran has no hidden or undocumented nuclear activities or undisclosed sites," state news agency IRNA reported.

Senior Iranian nuclear officials have previously warned that passing the resolution could seriously damage attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The sanctions returned after then-President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the United States from the accord. Talks to restore it have been stalled since April.

Tehran, which denies that its nuclear program seeks to build a bomb, has backed away from some of its commitments since 2019, and European powers have been expressing concerns over how far Iran's nuclear activities have gone.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-nuclear-monitoring- devices-off-censure/31889544.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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