IAEA censures Iran over 'undeclared' change to Fordow plant
The UN nuclear watchdog is criticizing Iran after it made alleged undeclared changes to its Fordow fuel enrichment plant, upping its uranium enrichment to 60% purity.
The connectivity between the two clusters of cutting-edge machines at Iran's Fordow project that enriches uranium to up to 60% purity received criticism from the IAEA on Wednesday, with the UN nuclear watchdog claiming that the Islamic Republic did not declare that it was heading in this direction.
The change was discovered by the IAEA on Jan. 21 at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, where inspectors are currently expediting inspections after Iran announced that it was drastically increasing enrichment.
The IAEA did not specify how the interconnection between the two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges had been altered in a confidential report to member states seen by Reuters, only that "they were interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran (to the IAEA)".
In response to an IAEA anti-Iran resolution drafted and pushed by the US and EU, Iran announced in November that it initiated enriching uranium at the Fordow nuclear power plant at a 60% purity level.
The IAEA was notified by Tehran about the decision in a letter, stating that this is to convey a strong message after the board of the UN nuclear energy passed the politically-oriented resolution.
It is worth noting that Iran previously mentioned that IR-1 centrifuges at the Fordow plant were replaced by IR-6 advanced centrifuges that would speed up enrichment 10-fold, and are approved under a law previously passed by the Iranian Parliament back in 2020 in response to the illegal unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on the country.
"This is inconsistent with Iran's obligations under its Safeguards Agreement and undermines the Agency’s ability to adjust the safeguards approach for FFEP and implement effective safeguards measures at this facility."
Britain, France, and Germany also vowed to discuss with foreign allies the appropriate way to respond to Iran's continuous so-called "nuclear escalation".
According to the report, the IAEA has had regular access to Fordow to conduct verification procedures including inspections and was now in discussions with Iran about scaling up such procedures.
"The Agency and Iran have continued their discussions. The Agency has increased the frequency and intensity of its verification activities at FFEP. However, some other safeguards measures are still required and are being discussed with Iran," the report stressed.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) chief Mohammad Eslami rejected the West's concerns over Iran's peaceful nuclear program, underlining the need for the director-general of the IAEA to visit Iran.
"We need to prepare the content for the travel schedule so that the goals and plan of this trip are clear. [Grossi] himself announced that he has such a trip, and he made the proposal for this trip after a secret meeting he had with the ministers of the Council of Europe and participating in their European Parliament," he said.
"Between 2020 and 2022, about 2,000 inspections were carried out by the agency, and in these three years, the number of inspections in Iran was 500; That is a quarter of all IAEA inspections," Eslami added.
"This is while we have 21 nuclear sites in Iran and the entire world has 730 nuclear sites and yet they still feel worried and it shows that these words are the enemy's and are part of sabotage operations and we are not going to be affected by these," he noted.