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UN nuclear watchdog closes two uranium probes, eases pressure on Iran

Israel condemns the move and affirms its resolve to “do what it must to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb ”

Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA director general, delivers his remarks at the briefing of the CARICOM Caucus virtual meeting, December 27, 2020. (Photo: Dean Calma/OIEA/Latin America via Reuters)

Inspectors from The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reportedly confirmed that they no longer have questions regarding uranium particles which were enriched to 83.7% in Iran’s underground Fordo facility and another site where man-made uranium was found.

The statement was made in two confidential quarterly reports distributed to member states of the IAEA. Uranium enriched to 90% is weapons grade material.

The reports ease pressure on Iran somewhat, as they accept Tehran’s argument that the particles were “a by-product of its current enrichment, as particles can reach higher enrichment levels in fluctuations,” according to the Times of Israel.

“The agency informed Iran that, following its evaluation of the data, the agency had assessed that the information provided was not inconsistent with Iran’s explanation…and that the agency had no further questions on this matter at this stage,” the report stated.

In addition, inspectors have also closed their probe into remains of man-made uranium found at Marivan, a site some 525 kilometers (about 326 miles) southeast of Tehran. The site was made famous when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed it in 2019. In 2021, then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett referred to it as a secret site.

Iran had claimed that the traces of uranium found at the site were from “laboratory instruments and equipment” used by miners at the site. The IAEA wrote in its report that Iran’s claim was “a possible explanation.”

“The agency at this time has no additional questions on the depleted uranium particles detected at Marivan…and the matter is no longer outstanding at this stage,” it said.

At the same time, the IAEA issued a second report which claimed Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was now 23 times more than the limit as specified in the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The IAEA report estimated that as of May 13, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was at 4,744.5 kilograms (10,460 pounds). Of that, 114.1 kilograms (251 pounds) was enriched up to 60% purity.

Following the UN’s announcement that it closed the probe, Israel’s Foreign Ministry shot back, saying the IAEA’s credibility was ‘severely damaged’ and that the United Nations bowed to pressure from Iraen.

“The explanations provided by Iran for the presence of nuclear material at the site are not reliable or technically possible,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lior Haiat said. “Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community.”

Haiat condemned UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Mariano Grossi, of giving in to political pressure from Iran and warned that the IAEA’s credibility was damaged, as Grossi had previously warned that Iran reportedly has enough uranium to produce “several” bombs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a firm statement in response to the announcement, saying that Israel will take whatever action is needed to defend the Jewish state.

“I hear all the reports about Iran, so I have a sharp, clear message for Iran and the international community: Israel will do what it must to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb,” the prime minister affirmed.

“The dangers facing the State of Israel are intensifying and we may be required to fulfill our duty in order to protect the integrity of Israel and especially the future of the Jewish people,” Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant added.

Iran's nuclear achievements and ambitions fall into the category of 'nothing new under the sun.'

As far back as December 2021, David Albright, founder and president of the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), had warned that Iran would be able to produce an atomic bomb almost immediately and would be able to have seven bombs ready within six months.

“Iran is effectively breaking out slowly by producing 60% enriched uranium and continuing to accumulate it,” Albright explained at the time.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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