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US joins Israel in accusing Iran of violating nuclear deal

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United States joined Israel on Tuesday in accusing Iran of “undeclared nuclear activities”, putting further pressure on European-led efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Iran condemned Monday’s accusations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of possessing an undisclosed location to develop and destroy nuclear weapons after its discovery.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Iran on Tuesday to abide by the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency, without directly referring to Netanyahu’s remarks.

Pompeo wrote on Twitter that the “lack of full cooperation by the Iranian regime” with the IAEA raises “questions about possible undeclared nuclear activities or materials” in the Islamic Republic, which the IAEA has asked to answer questions about its nuclear program.

He added that “the world will not be deceived. We will deny the regime (Iranian) all the ways that may lead (to possess) a nuclear weapon.”

The new statements come in a tense political atmosphere, where French President Emmanuel Macron is leading efforts to save the nuclear deal with Iran after the withdrawal of US President Donald Trump.

Macron proposed a summit between Trump and the Iranian leadership, a proposal that drew Trump’s attention and was strongly opposed by Netanyahu, who faces elections next week and considers Iran a threat to Israel’s existence.

In a televised speech, Netanyahu showed pictures of what he said was a site near the Iranian city of Abadeh (south of Isfahan), and confirmed that Iran had tested nuclear weapons development.

He said Israel learned of the site during a bold operation in Tehran and that the Iranian regime destroyed the site between late June and late July after learning that Israel had discovered it.

In response to Netanyahu, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Israel had a secret nuclear program, although it was widely known.

“Those who have real nuclear weapons are warning about a destructive site in Iran,” Zarif wrote on Twitter, referring to Netanyahu’s remarks when he was an ordinary citizen in 2002 supporting the invasion of Iraq.

– Call for urgent answers –

The Acting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Cornell Verota called on Iran on Monday to respond quickly to questions from the Agency.

But despite Pompeo’s accusations that Iran is not cooperating, Verota said his talks with Iranian officials were “very substantial” and that he was “pleased with the tone and the information we got.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a non-governmental organization in Washington, said the United States and Israel should be aware that the IAEA would be able to gain access to Iranian sites thanks to the nuclear deal.

“If any member state of the IAEA, such as the United States and Israel, has any reliable information, it should provide it to the agency instead of making a public relations offer,” he said. “For many allegations about specific sites, it is the agency that is investigating because it is the only agency with the technical and objective means to produce the right results.”

He said he believed there was still a chance for Macron’s efforts to succeed, especially with Trump embracing a funky line in his diplomacy.

However, he warned that time may run out as Iran takes a series of steps to break its strict commitment to the 2015 agreement.

– A series of nuclear steps –

The IAEA confirmed that Iran is installing centrifuges in the Natanz reactor more sophisticated than allowed under the nuclear deal.

Iran wants to take small but symbolic steps to show its disappointment that it has not reaped the benefits of a nuclear deal under which sanctions should be eased.

Trump has imposed a series of unilateral sanctions on Iran, including a ban on all Iranian oil sales.

Britain accused Iran on Tuesday of violating its assurances that a tanker seized off Gibraltar this summer would not transport oil to Syria and summoned Iran’s ambassador to protest.

“It is now clear that Iran has breached these safeguards and that the oil has been transferred to Syria and the criminal regime of President Bashar al-Assad,” the Foreign Office said.

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