Diplomats revealed that inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency found traces of radioactive materials in samples taken from a site in Iran, which raised further doubts about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.
These reports coincided with a meeting that gathered US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and their German counterpart, Heiko Maas, amid the West’s welcome of US President Joe Biden’s desire to return to the nuclear agreement and assume a leadership role on the international scene.
The US State Department issued a brief statement about the ministers’ video conference, noting that it touched on the topics of Iran, China, Russia, Myanmar, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the ministers emphasized the centrality of the transatlantic relationship in dealing with security, climate, economic, health and other challenges facing the world.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal quoted several diplomats as saying that the sites, where radioactive materials were found in Iran, increased suspicions, especially since the Iranian authorities had prevented international inspectors from accessing those sites for several months last year.
Although the inspectors’ report did not clarify whether the suspected weapons development was recent, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Western intelligence agencies believe that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program until 2003, although Tehran denies any attempt to obtain such weapons.
Iranian authorities allowed inspectors to visit two suspected sites last fall. Director-General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said at the time that the analysis of the samples would take months.
Meanwhile, US officials hinted that the Biden administration was studying ways to alleviate the financial burdens on Iran without lifting the economic sanctions imposed by its predecessor, seen as a step towards reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Some options include supporting the granting of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ease the repercussions resulting from the outbreak of the coronavirus and easing the sanctions that prevented international aid for the virus from reaching the country.