If a UN nuclear watchdog probe is not shelved, there will be no return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran's atomic chief, Mohammad Eslami reiterated on Wednesday.
Eslami spoke at length with the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) in Tehran, reiterating his earlier position that UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must shelve an investigation about Iran’s past nuclear activities before a new agreement restores the 2015 nuclear deal, JCPOA.
ISNA asked Eslami if IAEA’s questions about traces of uranium found at three previously undeclared sites are in essence a PMD (possible military dimension) inquiry or a safeguards issue. “In my view, these are all political excuses, similar to the PMD [issue]. The sites they name and the accusations they make are the same that comes out of the Zionists’ and hypocrites’ mouths. They have been repeating these for years.”
In April 2018, Israel revealed a throve of documents it said were stolen from a nuclear warehouse in Tehran that showed Iran had engaged in a secret nuclear program before 2003 with military dimensions. These documents at least partly shared with the IAEA rekindled interest in re-examining the pre-2003 undeclared Iranian nuclear program. The Israeli revelation came days before President Donald trump announced the US withdrawal from the JCPOA.
After a long delay, Tehran allowed the IAEA to inspect sites that Israel named in 2019 based on the documents it said were taken out of Iran. It was during this inspection that the UN watchdog found traces of uranium, which were not supposed to be there. This raised the likelihood of PMD.
Iran provided explanations to the IAEA, that until now the agency finds not fully convincing and demands satisfactory answers, as talks to revive the JCPOA have reached a critical stage.
The exact contents of a draft agreement presented by the European Union to reach an agreement is not known, but it is clear that the IAEA demands are linked to the finalization of a deal.
Eslami insisted in his interview with ISNA that Israel is behind IAEA’s demands for more explanations by Iran, a position Tehran has been espousing for a long time. “The same mouth that says it wants to bomb and obliterate Iran’s nuclear industry, also presents these fake documents,” Eslami said referring to Israeli military threats to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons.
ISNA asked the nuclear chief why then Iran allowed the IAEA to go and investigate these sites. “Unfortunately, the previous government [of President Hassan Rouhani] accepted that they come and see these sites. They came and saw, and questions continued,” Eslami said. He made an accusation that IAEA’s probe “is the continuation of the same sabotage and terror,” referring to a series of operations against Iran’s nuclear scientists and sensitive sites widely attributed to Israel.
Eslami also rejected reports that Iran has relinquished its demand to shelve the IAEA probe. “What we wrote was decisive. Our aim and insistence is that if this case is not closed by the date when [JCPOA] ‘re-implementation’ is to take place, there will be no ‘re-implementation, and we will not retreat and we cannot retreat.”