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Iran condemns “US-Israeli conspiracy” over its nuclear program

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Iran denounced what it said was a “US-Israeli plot” to put pressure on the UN nuclear watchdog after Tehran in recent days called for more cooperation after diplomats talked about monitoring uranium traces at an undisclosed location.

The IAEA has extensive inspection powers in Iran under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The IAEA has appealed to Iran to cooperate in the past few days, without specifying why it specifically said it was secret.

Diplomats told Reuters the IAEA wanted Iran to explain the finding of traces of uranium at a site described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a year ago as a “secret nuclear store”.

“Two days before this board meeting we are witnessing a US-Israeli conspiracy with the support of their media,” Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said in a statement to the IAEA board meeting that began on Monday.

He pointed to a statement by national security adviser John Bolton, who was one of the hawks of the US administration towards Iran and left office on Tuesday, that Iran “may be hiding nuclear materials or activities or both”. It was hours before the IAEA’s acting director-general traveled to Tehran.

Netanyahu, who opposes Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers such as Trump, also said on Monday that Tehran was building nuclear weapons at another site that it destroyed after the deal.

Iran says its aims are entirely peaceful.

“John Bolton’s desire to set an agenda for the Acting Director-General’s visit on the eve of his trip to Tehran, as well as the media campaign of two news agencies and the presentation by the Israeli prime minister all point to a joint venture being implemented,” Gharib Abadi said.

Reuters published a report on Sunday on the effects of uranium.

“These review measures are aimed at increasing pressure on the IAEA and breaking the last straw in the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan (nuclear deal),” the Iranian envoy said.

Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which responded by announcing some steps to violate the terms of the deal, but says it is still seeking to maintain it.

Asked by reporters about the discovery of radioactive material and why the IAEA has asked Iran to improve its cooperation, Gharib Abadi said these were confidential, adding that Iran was “cooperating in a timely and proactive manner” with the IAEA.

He also attacked Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons and deliberately pursues a policy of ambiguity about its nuclear capabilities.

“Israel’s talk of a nonproliferation obligation is like the Mafia talk of abiding by laws against organized crime,” he said.

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