POST TIME: 8 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
EU voices ‘deep concern’ over Iran nuclear inspector incident
AFP, Vienna

EU voices ‘deep concern’ over Iran nuclear inspector incident

This file photo shows Iranian technicians working at a facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy water nuclear reactor, outside Isfahan. AP photo

The EU said yesterday it was “deeply concerned” by an incident involving an inspector with the UN’s nuclear watchdog last week in Iran which led to her having her accreditation cancelled. In a statement delivered to a special meeting of the governing body of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an EU representative said: “The EU is... deeply concerned by the incident concerning one IAEA inspector.”

“We understand that the incident was resolved and call upon Iran to ensure that no such incidents occur in the future,” the statement said.

Reiterating the European Union’s “full confidence in the inspectorate’s professionalism and impartiality”, the statement called “upon Iran to ensure that IAEA inspectors can perform their duties in line with its legally binding safeguards agreement”.

Iran said Thursday it had cancelled the inspector’s accreditation after she triggered an alarm last week at the entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

The alarm during a check at the entrance gate to the plant in central Iran had raised concerns that she could be carrying a “suspect product” on her, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation said in a statement posted online.

As a result, she was denied entry, it added, without specifying whether or not anything had been found in her possession.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib Abadi told reporters after the meeting in Vienna that the woman “sneaked out” to the bathroom while waiting for a more thorough inspection after setting off the alarms on October 28 during a routine check, using a special chemical detector that can find a range of explosive materials containing nitrates.

After her return, the alarms did not go off again, but authorities found contamination in the bathroom and later on her empty handbag during a house search.

Iran said IAEA officials were present for all the searches.

The woman left Iran on October 30, Gharib Abadi said, after what he described as her “hasty summoning” back to Vienna.

“Due to the nature of incident, Iran officially has asked the agency to remove her name from the list of designated inspectors,” Gharib Abadi said, adding Tehran “cannot condone any behaviour or action which may be against the safety and security of its nuclear installations”.

Iran has been progressively scaling back its commitments under a landmark 2015 deal aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

The US left the agreement last year and re-imposed sanctions, leaving remaining world powers to the deal—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—trying to save the agreement and mitigate the sanctions.

The IAEA, which has not publicly commented on the incident with the inspector so far, monitors the deal’s implementation.

The US said in a statement to the IAEA that the inspector’s “detention” was an “outrageous provocation”.

“All board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences,” US ambassador to the IAEA Jackie Wolcott said.

Gharib Abadi has denied the inspector was ever detained, saying she was allowed to leave the country despite ongoing investigations into the incident.