Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said there is evidence that an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector who was recently prevented from entering an Iranian nuclear site was carrying “suspicious material”.
Speaking to the Young Journalists Club, Salehi rejected claims that security forces arrested the IAEA inspector and said, “Inspectors generally enjoy diplomatic immunity, such as that of ambassadors, during their missions, and such matters are enshrined in international law.”
“Of course, IAEA inspectors should be checked when entering Iran’s sites and this is normal when visiting nuclear facilities around the world and this regulation is not limited to Iran,” he said.
“During the (security) check, the devices discovered that one of the inspectors was carrying suspicious material,” the nuclear chief added.
“When the inspector was asked about it, her answers were not convincing,” he said, adding, “In addition, there were other things I cannot say in detail, all of which were eventually documented, filmed and recorded, but because of diplomatic immunity we could not keep the inspector.”
Earlier this month, some Western media reports claimed that Iran briefly had held an inspector working for the UN nuclear watchdog in the Islamic Republic and seized her travel documents.
The incident came as Iran restarted enrichment at the Fordow nuclear facility as the fourth step away from the 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The country had earlier reduced its commitments in three other phases, but the latest one, the injection of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at Fordow, is believed to be the most important step so far, and a serious warning to the other parties.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA.
Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the JCPOA after the US withdrawal, but the three EU parties to the deal (France, Britain, and Germany) have failed to ensure Iran’s economic interests.
The EU’s inaction forced Tehran to stop honoring certain commitments to the nuclear deal, including a rise in the stockpile of enriched uranium.
Iran maintains that the new measures are not designed to harm the JCPOA but to save the accord by creating a balance in the commitments.