U.N. inspectors found radioactive traces in Iran, say diplomats

A nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, in August 2010. (IIPA/Getty Images via the Wall Street Journal)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.N. inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, Wall Street Journal cited three diplomats briefed on the discovery as saying.

The diplomats told the Wall Street Journal that samples taken from two sites during inspections in the fall by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contained traces of radioactive material.

The diplomats said that could indicate Iran had undertaken work on nuclear weapons, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Iran blocked the IAEA inspectors from checking the sites involved for seven months last year.

Tehran has recently accelerated its breaches of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, raising pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden as both sides say they are willing to come back into compliance with the badly eroded agreement if the other side moves first.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program to make it harder for it to develop nuclear weapons in return for relief from U.S. and other economic sanctions.

Iran began its breaches in 2019 in response to Washington’s withdrawal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and the reimposition of U.S. economic sanctions against Tehran that were lifted under the deal.

In September 2019, Reuters cited diplomats as saying the U.N. nuclear watchdog had found uranium traces at Iran’s atomic warehouses.

In a speech in 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposed the deal, called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

Both the IAEA and U.S. intelligence services believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it ended more than a decade before the deal.

Iran says its nuclear ambitions have always been peaceful.

“The discovery of radioactive material at these sites would indicate that Iran does indeed have undeclared nuclear material, despite its denials,” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“It would indicate that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program in the past, likely leading the IAEA to call for access to more sites and more explanations from Iran.”

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