JERUSALEM, Israel – The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said on Sunday that Iran is blocking inspectors from accessing important monitoring equipment at its Karaj nuclear site, in violation of a recent agreement it made with the agency.
“The (IAEA) Director General (Rafael Grossi) stresses that Iran’s decision not to allow agency access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop is contrary to the agreed terms of the joint statement issued on 12 September,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.
The Sept. 12 agreement sought to resolve a major breakdown in communication between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic. Since February, Iran had restricted IAEA inspectors from accessing surveillance footage at its sensitive nuclear sites. The mid-September agreement allowed inspectors to continue monitoring the surveillance cameras, ahead of a milestone IAEA board meeting in which Western powers had been arguing for Tehran to be censured over its lack of cooperation with international inspectors.
The IAEA statement said that from Sept. 20-21, Iran allowed inspectors access to surveillance equipment “at all necessary locations” except the Karaj nuclear site.
“The Director General reiterates that all of the agency’s activities referred to in the joint statement for all identified agency equipment and Iranian facilities and locations are indispensable in order to maintain continuity of knowledge,” the IAEA statement said.
In June, Iran accused Israel of carrying out an attack at Karaj, where nuclear scientists develop machines to enrich uranium. Tehran offered few details about the incident but said the facility had been damaged.
In April, a mysterious blackout struck Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility and damaged some of its centrifuges. Last July, unexplained fires broke out in Natanz, which authorities later described as sabotage. Iran is now rebuilding that nuclear facility deep inside a nearby mountain.
Iran also blamed Israel for the November killing of a scientist described as the mastermind who started the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier.
Israel does not comment on reports of sabotage but has repeatedly said it will use its military to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Iran denies it is developing a nuclear weapon.