UN Nuclear Agency Rejects Iran’s Stance on Off-limits Military Sites

The top UN official that is monitoring Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday has rejected Tehran’s claim that its military sites were off-limits to inspection, saying that his agency needs full access to all the “relevant locations” if suspicions arise of possible hidden atomic activities.

The comments by the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano are very significant — his agency is policing those atomic activities that Iran claims are peaceful but the U.S. thinks that are a covert pursuit of nuclear arms. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the agreement as too soft on Tehran and has mentioned the option of pulling out of the treaty that Washington and five other world powers agreed to with Iran just over two years ago.

Although Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany also signed on to the agreement, Iran and the U.S. were the key signatory states. If the U.S. decides to pull out of it, it could effectively kill the agreement, and lead Iran to quickly ramp up the atomic programs that could be used to make weapons.

Washington’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, met with Amano last week to underline the American position that the military sites are part of any IAEA monitoring. Iranian officials from have rejected that option, and the regime’s spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht this week dismissed any push for military inspections as a “dream.”

Amano didn’t directly contradict the Iranian officials, saying his agency doesn’t react to “news reports.” But he told The Associated Press that under monitoring conditions accepted by Iran, his agency “has access to (all) locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations” as it works to ensure that Iran doesn’t have hidden nuclear activities.

Haley, in a statement Thursday, said that if “inspections of Iranian military sites are ‘merely a dream,’ then the Iranian compliance …. is also a dream.”

Even if Iran is keen to accept such inspections, it is bound to demand stringent concessions. The deal outlines what Tehran has to do to pull back its nuclear program from the brink of weapons-making capacity in return for economic and other sanctions relief for Iran.

Amano’s agency on Thursday noted that there are no violations by Tehran in its latest quarterly Iran monitoring report. At the same time, the report said that the agency continues to hunt for “undeclared nuclear material and activities.”