IAEA found uranium traces at Iran’s ‘atomic warehouse’, allege diplomats

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Yves Le Drian attends a French president's press conference in Biarritz southwest France

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday its inspectors verified new centrifuges, including 30 advanced IR-6 and three IR-6s models, had been or were being installed but not yet tested.

All of the installed centrifuges, it said, had been prepared for testing with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), "although none of them were being tested with UF6 on 7 and 8 September 2019".

Under the four-year-old atomic accord, Iran is supposed to be limited to operating 5,060 older IR-1 centrifuges.

In a statement released Monday, the United Nations nuclear watchdog confirmed that it was able to verify on September 7 "that the following centrifuges were either installed or being installed.: 22 IR-4, one IR-5, 30 IR-6 and three IR-6", with "IR" referring to Iran's centrifuge equipment.

China has blamed the United States for tensions over Iran's nuclear program and called for world powers to stick to their 2015 deal with Tehran, AP has reported.

Iran's nuclear chief said on Sunday that European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal have failed to fulfill their commitments under the pact.

Last week, spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Abbas Mousavi sent a letter to the head of the European Union's Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, in which he outlined the suspension of further nuclear commitments stipulated in the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with six world powers. It can use far fewer advanced centrifuges for research but without accumulating enriched uranium.

Those traces were of uranium, the diplomats said - the same element Iran is enriching and one of only two fissile elements that can make the core of a nuclear bomb.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes Iran's nuclear deal with major powers, first pointed to the site past year, calling it a "secret atomic warehouse" and saying it had housed unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

On Sunday the IAEA's Acting Director General Cornel Feruta was in Tehran, where he met senior Iranian officials. Under the atomic accord, Iran's now limited to operating 5,060 older IR-1 centrifuges. How can one breach an agreement that the other key party, the USA, had already pronounced dead, pulling out and reimposing sanctions whose lifting had been part of the deal, despite outside inspectors and other nations party to the agreement insisting that Iran has been adhering to the agreement?

"We have made it very clear that the role of the agency is to report the facts to members of the JCPOA and also the board", Feruta told reporters in Vienna.

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

"I also stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to agency questions related to the completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations", Feruta said.

But Tehran has refused to re-open negotiations with the USA, and has instead pushed the other parties to the 2015 agreement, mainly Europe, to find a way to allow Iran to keep selling its crude oil overseas - essentially to evade the US sanctions.

Bringing the more advanced centrifuges online would give the Iranians' the ability to enrich more uranium, and to a higher degree of purity.

France, which has been leading Europe's efforts to rescue the nuclear deal, yesterday urged Iran to halt its steps away from the accord.

Feruta would not comment on a Saturday tweet by John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, that the IAEA informed its board that "Iran may be concealing nuclear material and/or activities".

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