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IAEA Allowed Inspecting A Suspected Nuclear Site In Iran After A Long Stand-off

IRAN -- Iranian technicians work at a new facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor, just outside the city of Isfahan, April 9, 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that its officials have finally inspected one of the two sites that Iran granted the agency access to last week.

In its quarterly report released on Friday, September 4, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said that environmental samples had been taken from the site and will be tested later to see if traces of uranium were found at the location, which the IAEA did not name in its report.

According to the report, IAEA inspectors will visit the second location "later in September 2020 on a date already agreed with Iran, to take environmental samples."

In a joint statement on Wednesday, August 26, after a two-day visit of the IAEA Director-General to Iran, the two sides announced an agreement over settling inspection issues.

Under the agreement, Iran voluntarily allowed the IAEA to inspect its nuclear activities at "two suspected locations" where production may have occurred. Iran also granted the IAEA permission to facilitate the nuclear verification procedure at the sites, one located "around Shahreza" in Isfahan province and another in the "suburbs of Tehran," and enhance bilateral cooperation overall.

The IAEA had been asking for months to inspect the two locations suspected of being used in early 2000 for nuclear activities that Iran previously did not report.

International news agencies, including Reuters, noted that previous IAEA reports speculated that the two sites were probably razed to the ground in 2003 and 2004 to destroy uranium traces.

On June 19, the IAEA's Board of Governors in Vienna adopted a resolution proposed by Britain, France, and Germany to reprimand Iran's nuclear activities and its insistence on barring the IAEA inspectors from visiting the suspected sites. The resolution was the first of its kind in the past eight years.

The three European parties in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)'s 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran submitted a draft resolution to the IAEA Board of Governors demanding that Iran grant IAEA inspectors access to the two suspected sites and cooperate fully with the UN nuclear watchdog.

IAEA also disclosed in its new report that Iran has been increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium, and has so far stored 2.32 tons of low-enriched uranium, compared to 1.73 tons last April.

According to the JCPOA, Iran must have less than 203 kilograms of low-concentrated uranium at any given time. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) rose by 534 kilograms in the most recent quarter, roughly the same amount as in the previous three months, for a total of 2,105.4 kilograms, numbering more than ten times the 202.8 kg limit set by the JCPOA.

Iran has responded by saying that the country will not follow all of its JCPOA-related commitments, in retaliation to the U.S.' reimposition of sanctions on Iran and the country's withdrawal from the JCPOA deal in 2018.

Iran's current stockpile remains far below the many tons of enriched uranium that the nation had accumulated before the 2015 deal.