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IAEA urges Iran to respond quickly to its questions

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday there was no time to waste it on answering its questions, which diplomats say include explaining the finding of uranium traces at an undisclosed location.

It said Iran began implementing its pledge last week to further violate the 2015 nuclear deal, this time to install more advanced centrifuges and move towards enriching uranium, although this is banned under the nuclear deal.

Diplomats say Iran has yet to explain to the IAEA how uranium particles reached what Tehran said was a carpet-cleaning facility.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposes the deal, first referred to the site last year as a “secret nuclear store”, saying it contained unknown radioactive material that had been transported there since.

Details of IAEA inspections are confidential and usually not commented on. But IAEA acting director-general Cornell Verota said he had pressed Iran at meetings in Tehran on Sunday to improve its cooperation with the agency.

“Time is like a sword,” Verota, who took office after the death of Director General Yukiya Amano in July, told a news conference at a quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

He referred to his meetings with Iranian officials, including the foreign minister and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization, saying his message was “well received”.

Diplomats who attended a briefing by the IAEA chief inspector last week said the IAEA had told its member states Iran had two months to answer its questions, but Tehran gave a general description of the matter because of its confidentiality.

At the same time, the agency has not yet sounded the alarm because such questions are part of a rigorous process that could take months.

“We are very precise and careful and we are devoted to our mandate,” he said, without elaborating.

– New violation –

The 2015 agreement allows Iran to produce enriched uranium using just over 5,000 first-generation centrifuges (IR-1). Under the deal, Tehran could use only a few of the most sophisticated centrifuges for research purposes but without stockpiling enriched uranium.

But Iran goes beyond the limits imposed on its atomic work step by step in response to US sanctions imposed since Washington withdrew from the deal in May last year.

The Islamic Republic said last week it would go beyond the agreement on research and development, a term applied to Iran’s use of advanced centrifuges.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had informed it that it was making adjustments to accommodate interconnected groups, including 164 IR-2M and IR-4 centrifuges. The agreement had canceled the chains of this size and type.

UN inspectors have verified that Iran has installed or is installing fewer sophisticated centrifuges, the spokesman said.

“All the centrifuges installed for the experiment were prepared using UF6,” he said, although none were tested on September 7 and 8.

He said Iran had told the IAEA that it would adjust its research centrifuge lines so that enriched uranium could be produced, which the deal does not allow.

The agency noted in a confidential report to member states that Iran has made these amendments in some lines.

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