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IAEA Chief Gives Iran Until End Of Month To Grant Access To Suspected Sites

AUSTRIA -- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the media after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, June 15, 2020

The Chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday warned Iran of "bad" consequences if access is not granted by the end of July to two sites where undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place in the past.

“I keep insisting on the absolute necessity for us to resolve this issue very soon,” Rafael Mariano Grossi was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying. He also pointed out that the issue was not going to just go away and urged Iran again to provide IAEA investigators access to the disputed sites.

In a June report IAEA said Iran had not provided access to the two sites for four months. Subsequently, on June 19 the IAEA passed a resolution proposed by the European sides of the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against Iran.

IAEA says undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place at the two sites in early 2000s but on June 19 Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency said the allegations were based on evidence "fabricated" by Israeli agents.

IAEA reports, according to Reuters, say the two sites were demolished in 2003 and 2004, possibly for eliminating traces of enriched uranium. One of the two sites is a factory near the village of Turquzabad in the south of the capital Tehran where IAEA inspectors found uranium particles in environmental samples taken in 2019.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 alleged that Iran had a "secret atomic warehouse" at Turquzabad. He even claimed that the site housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed and called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately.

The U.S. intelligence believes Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it ended more than a decade before the deal although Iran claims its nuclear ambitions have always been peaceful.

In retaliation for the withdrawal of the United States from JCPOA in 2018 and reintroduction of crippling U.S. sanctions Iran has taken some reverse steps including adding to its stockpile of enriched uranium. In March the stockpile had increased by more than five times the 300 kg limit set under the agreement.