IranMiddle East

Iran: Denying IAEA inspection access allows Riyadh to hide nuclear activities

Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been denied even the “minimum” authorities for verifying the nuclear activities in Saudi Arabia, warning that such situation allows the kingdom to pursue a covert atomic program.

Kazem Gharibabadi made the remarks in a post on his Twitter account on Thursday after the Saudi envoy to the IAEA Prince Abdullah Bin Khalid Bin Sultan expressed concerns about Iran’s recent nuclear measures.

“For the KSA, the IAEA is not being provided with even minimum necessary verification authorities,” Gharibabadi said.

“A failure to implement the safeguards by rescinding the SQPs, could allow them to hide certain nuclear activities without them being subject to the IAEA inspections,” he added, referring to small quantities protocols to a comprehensive safeguards agreement.

Earlier this week, Iran announced that it had informed the IAEA of its plan to produce uranium metal enriched to 20 percent purity, which would be used as fuel for a research reactor in the capital, Tehran.

“This measure, which will significantly improve the quality and quantity of radiopharmaceutical production, will make the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the leading countries in the field of nuclear technology,” Gharibabadi tweeted.

Prince Abdullah, however, said that Iran’s real intentions are a matter of concern, claiming that the silicide fuel plate is not used for peaceful purpose.

Tehran’s “approach negatively affects any negotiations related to the nuclear agreement,” the Saudi envoy to the IAEA alleged. “The escalatory steps announced by Iran do not match with its statements about the peacefulness of its nuclear program and confirm its intentions and pursuit of the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon.”

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions have prompted worries in the global community over the past few years, especially after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted in 2018 that the kingdom may go for nukes.

Citing Western officials, The Wall Street Journal reported last August that Saudi Arabia, with Chinese help, has built a facility for extraction of yellowcake from uranium ore near the remote town of al-Ula.

The New York Times also said American intelligence agencies had spotted what appeared to be an undeclared nuclear site not too far from the Saudi town of al-Uyaynah.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran showed the peaceful nature of its nuclear program to the world by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — in 2015. The accord was also ratified in the form of a UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US under former president Donald Trump, however, unilaterally pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and re-instated unilateral sanctions against Tehran despite objections from the other signatories and the entire world community.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program.

Now, the new US administration says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.

Since April, envoys from Iran and the other remaining parties to the JCPOA have been attending the talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the accord. A US delegation is also in the Austrian capital, but it is not attending the discussions because the United States is not a party to the nuclear accord.

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