While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) itself has not publicly commented on denying the entry of one of its inspectors to an Iranian nuclear facility, the US took such task to take aim at the Islamic Republic.
Iran has said it stopped an IAEA inspector from gaining access to its main uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, saying she tested positive for traces of explosives.
Tehran’s envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog Kazem Gharibabadi told reporters on Thursday that, after going to the toilet while waiting for a further search, the inspector no longer showed positive traces, which prompted a further investigation.
Iran also circulated a memo to member states of the IAEA describing in detail the incident that it said began around 11am on 28 October, including that the inspector “sneaked out to go to the WC” and that “alarming signals” were found on a toilet bowl and parts of exit piping, which were dismantled for checks.
The inspector was allowed to leave Iran on 30 October, the memo obtained by Reuters said. Tehran also said it had cancelled the inspector’s accreditation following the incident.
Commenting on the incident, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed Tehran’s treatment of an inspector as “an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation.”
“The United States fully supports the IAEA’s monitoring and verification activities in Iran, and we are alarmed at Iran’s lack of adequate cooperation,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“IAEA inspectors must be allowed to conduct their critical work unimpeded. We call on Iran to immediately resolve all open issues with the IAEA and to afford Agency inspectors the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled.”
Jackie Wolcott, the US representative to the IAEA, on Thursday also called the inspector’s rejection an “outrageous provocation.”
“All board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences,” Wolcott said in remarks released to journalists.
“If the Iranian regime thinks it can test the international community’s resolve on this issue, then we assure you the United States will not waver.”