According to a report in Reuters, the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered traces of uranium in a warehouse in Tehran that Iran has been unable to explain. The warehouse was raided by Israel’s special forces last year and thousands of documents were taken. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the IAEA to inspect the facility because Israeli scientists had detected traces of nuclear materials.
The IAEA took the unusual step of granting the Israeli government’s request and found trace amounts of low enriched uranium. Iran has refused to explain the provenance of the uranium, which has since led to an increase in sanctions by the Trump administration.
“There are lots of possible explanations,” that diplomat said. But since Iran has not yet given any to the IAEA it is hard to verify the particles’ origin, and it is also not clear whether the traces are remnants of material or activities that predate the landmark 2015 deal or more recent, diplomats say.
The IAEA did not respond to a request for comment. Iranian officials were not available to comment.
In a live video chat on Facebook, ahead of an election next week, Netanyahu was asked about the Reuters report.
“I know the issue is being handled by the IAEA. I do not intend to discuss this today. It’s very possible that I will have something to say about it tomorrow,” Netanyahu said.
“But it is certainly an important issue – let me tell you, it’s the most important issue as far as our future is concerned. And I am not relenting for a moment.”
It should be noted that the documents in the warehouse predate the Trump administration and are apparently chock full evidence that Iran was trying to build a nuclear bomb, including designs for a nuclear warhead.
For those who still think the deal with Iran was a good one, this total lack of cooperation with the IAEA by Iran illustrates why the agreement was so bad.
The process of seeking an explanation from Iran has lasted two months, the IAEA’s safeguards division chief told member states in a briefing on Thursday, diplomats present said. But he described what it was seeking an answer to far more generally as questions about Iran’s declaration of nuclear material and activities, since the details are confidential.
“It is not something that is so unique to Iran. The agency has these cases in many other situations,” a senior diplomat said when asked about the current standoff with Iran. “Depending on the engagement it can take two months, six months.”
What makes that wait time problematic is that these same procedures would have been in place to adjudicate disputes about whether Tehran was cheating. The process to catch Iran cheating by the IAEA was a joke. Having to wait a couple of months to inspect the relevant sites means that Iran would have had no problems hiding their cheating.
The IAEA was not aware of this secret warehouse that may have stored nuclear materials. If so, it means that Tehran was in violation of the agreement from the first day.