The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on August 25 called on the UN's nuclear watchdog to seek access to Iranian military bases to ensure that they are not concealing activities banned by the 2015 nuclear deal.
"I have good confidence in the [International Atomic Energy Agency], but they are dealing with a country that has a clear history of lying and pursuing covert nuclear programs," Haley told a news conference in New York after returning from a visit to the agency in Vienna.
"We are encouraging the IAEA to use all the authorities they have and to pursue every angle possible" to verify compliance with the nuclear deal, she said.
The UN watchdog agency previously concluded that Iran conducted research secretly on a nuclear warhead at one military site before 2009, a charge which Tehran denies.
The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons by imposing constraints on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian leaders have rejected giving international inspectors access to their military sites. But the deal lays out a process for the UN agency, which is charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement, to request access to any Iranian site where it suspects nuclear activities might be occurring.
"The JCPOA made no distinction between military and non-military sites," said Haley, adding that "there are also numerous undeclared sites that have not been inspected. That is a problem.”
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is in the midst of a review of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has criticized as "horrible" and has threatened to abandon. The United States is one of six world powers that signed onto the agreement in 2015.
The U.S. Statement Department has certified that Iran is technically in compliance with the deal twice this year, but has charged that Iran's ballistic missile tests violate the "spirit" of the deal.
Iranian leaders have countercharged that a series of new sanctions imposed by the United States over the missile tests this year also violate the "spirit" of the accord. They have warned that Iran could easily and quickly resume nuclear weapons development if the United States abandons the deal.
Haley said earlier this week that she was "concerned" about whether Iran is adhering to the nuclear deal and that while the watchdog agency is known for its "credibility, professionalism, and seriousness," it "can only be as good as the access Iran grants" it.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP