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US State Department Warns of Undeclared 'Nuclear Activities' in Iran

US State Department Warns of Undeclared 'Nuclear Activities' in Iran

Wednesday, 20 April, 2022 - 10:00
A number of new generation Iranian centrifuges are seen on display during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran, Iran April 10, 2021. Iranian Presidency Office/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

In an annual report on compliance with arms control and non-proliferation obligations, the US State Department warned of undeclared nuclear activities conducted by the Iranian regime.


It said that Iran did not cooperate with the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a time when Iran seeks the removal of US sanctions in exchange for a return to the nuclear agreement.


The annual report of the US State Department highlighted Iran’s efforts to continue enriching uranium and deploying centrifuges in its nuclear facilities, non-compliance with agreements, in addition to covering up a number of undeclared sites that saw nuclear activities.


The report warned that Iran’s continued expansion of uranium enrichment activities would lead to the production of enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon.


It also noted that although “uranium metal” has conventional civilian and military uses, it is a major enabler for the production of nuclear weapons, because “Iran will need to convert weapons-grade uranium from the gaseous form used in enrichment, to metal to make nuclear weapons components.”


The report emphasized that Iran abandoned the protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on February 23, 2021, which “seriously” undermined the verification activities of the IAEA. In this context, it pointed to concerns about possible and undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, including four sites, as evidenced by the IAEA’s ongoing safeguards investigations.


According to the report, the United States continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the major nuclear weapons development activities that it deems necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. However, if Iran manufactures or acquires a nuclear weapon through different means, such actions would violate its obligations under Article II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Based on reports provided by the IAEA on the implementation of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol, the United States concluded that there remain serious concerns about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.


The 56-page report issued by the US State Department added that Iran has not yet provided a reliable explanation for the existence of man-made uranium particles and a full answer to the IAEA’s original questions.


During the reporting period, the IAEA Director-General, Rafael Grossi, repeatedly called on Tehran to fully cooperate with the agency and to provide the necessary information and documents to answer outstanding questions, noting that Iran had not provided technically reliable or satisfactory answers to the agency’s inquiries.


The report noted that atomic energy inspectors have been subjected to inappropriate treatment, which is inconsistent with internationally accepted security practices, such as invasive body searches by Iranian security personnel at nuclear facilities.


According to the report, one year after the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran announced its intention to gradually begin expanding its nuclear program. Tehran enacted a law entitled, “The Strategic Action Plan for Lifting Sanctions and Protecting the Interests of the Iranian Nation,” which required the Iranian government to further expand Iran’s nuclear activities in the event that the nuclear agreement was not implemented. Expansion activities included the production of 20 percent enriched uranium, the installation of advanced centrifuges and reduced cooperation with the IAEA. Production was later expanded to 60 percent, shortly after the explosion in April 11 last year, which caused a power blackout at Iran’s Natanz fuel enrichment plant and a number of centrifuge failures.


The report referred to commercial satellite images, which indicated that the TESA workshop for the manufacture of centrifuge components in Karaj was damaged by a drone attack on June 23 last year 2021. Iran claimed that atomic energy cameras may have been hacked, which facilitated the attack, pushing Iran to reject the access of atomic energy inspectors to the site.


The report comes as US lawmakers, from both Republican and Democrat camps, are increasingly opposed to President Joe Biden’s efforts to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.


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