Traces of uranium have been found by the IAEA at two Iranian sites that the country had tried to block access to.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has revealed that it found the uranium particles last summer at the two nuclear-linked sites after seven months of stonewalling. Enriched uranium can be used to form the core of a nuclear weapon.
The Agency is expected to rebuke Iran in a forthcoming report for failing to provide adequate explanations as to how the uranium ended up at the two undeclared sites. Iran is understood to have claimed that the uranium at the sites was a result of contamination by radioactive equipment taken there from another location. This was disproven by the IAEA through testing and one unnamed diplomat described it as “implausible” and “typical delaying tactics”.
The two sites allegedly include one in Abadeh – which was identified by Israel in September 2019 as being the site of an alleged secret nuclear facility. Media reports indicate that one of the sites was used for explosive testing while the other hosted uranium conversion work, a step in processing the material before enrichment.
In accordance with the JCPOA, Iran is obligated to account for all uranium in order for the IAEA to verify that none is being redirected to a nuclear weapons programme.
The IAEA reportedly kept its findings secret and only shared the details of the find with a few countries.
Israel previously identified the suspected nuclear site following the recovery of extensive nuclear documents concerning it’s nuclear-weapons programme, smuggled out of Tehran by Mossad. Israel has repeatedly cited the wealth of nuclear paperwork as evidence of Iran’s duplicitous approach to the JCPOA with the P5+1 and that it continues to not act in good faith.
Iran has long been suspected of having operated a secret nuclear weapons programme, which reportedly stopped in 2003. The JCPOA nuclear deal failed to address Iran’s historic nuclear activities, which is often cited by critics of the nuclear deal as undermining the international community’s ability to constrain the true extent of Iran’s programme.