From Bloomberg News:
Iran Accuses IAEA of Spying, Says It Will Never Halt Enrichment
Iran accused the United Nations nuclear inspectorate of spying, vowed never to suspend uranium enrichment and cast doubt on whether a deal allowing wider atomic inspections is possible.
“Iran will resist to the end” and “will not permit our national security to be jeopardized” by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors working for Western intelligence agencies, the Persian Gulf nation’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said today at a press briefing in Vienna. “Iran will never suspend its enrichment activities,” he said.
The Iranian comments came as the agency’s 35-member board of governors concluded its quarterly review of the country’s nuclear work today in the Austrian capital. IAEA officials meet their Iranian counterparts on June 8 in an attempt to conclude a deal for wider access to sites alleged to conceal atomic-weapons work. Iran, the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, says its nuclear program is peaceful.
“The agency, which is supposed to be an international technical organization, is somehow playing the role of an intelligence agency,” Soltanieh said.
“This negotiation is happening because Iran wants it to happen,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace nuclear analyst Mark Hibbs said today in an interview in Vienna. “There’s nothing that obligates the IAEA to negotiate over a work plan. That implies the burden is on Iran.”
Soltanieh contradicted IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s May 22 announcement after returning from talks in Tehran that a “decision” had been made to allow inspectors wider access. Iran’s top negotiator Saeed Jalili had only pledged his country’s “determination” to reach an agreement, the envoy said.
IAEA inspectors use intelligence received from member states to press Iran for answers on its program. The agency reported in November that it had “credible” intelligence pointing to Iranian work on a nuclear trigger at its Parchin nuclear complex. The country has subsequently cleaned-up the site, Amano said June 4 at a press conference.
Iran says IAEA inspectors should be sticking to their core duty of accounting for nuclear material and shouldn’t be asked to investigate alleged missile and military activities.
Diplomats from China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. meet their Iranian counterparts in Moscow on June 18-19. It will be the third round of talks in three months over Iran’s nuclear work, which the West says is a cover for nuclear weapons development and Iran says is peaceful.
“Right now we’re at an impasse because Iran believes these matters fall outside the mandate of the agency,” Hibbs said. “Two weeks before the meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Soltanieh is showing Iran will be defiant. That’s not a good development.”