VIENNA (AP) – The International Atomic Energy Agency will “never politicize” its work in Iran, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Monday, insisting after Israel’s prime minister accused of having capitulated under Iranian pressure, that his agency was “very fair”. but firm.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came after a confidential IAEA report last week said its investigators had closed their investigation into traces of artificial uranium found in Marivan, near the city of Abadeh. , about 525 kilometers (325 miles) to the southeast. from Tehran.
Analysts had repeatedly linked Marivan to a possible secret Iranian military nuclear program and accused Iran of testing high explosives there in the early 2000s.
“Iran continues to lie to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency’s capitulation to Iranian pressure is a black stain on its record,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in a televised address Sunday.
“If the IAEA becomes a political organization, then its surveillance activity in Iran is irrelevant, as are its reports on Iran’s nuclear activity,” Netanyahu said.
Asked about these criticisms on Monday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said his agency’s work is “neutral, impartial, technical”.
“We will always tell it like it is,” Grossi told reporters on the first day of a regular meeting in Vienna of the IAEA’s board of governors.
Grossi added that he would “never enter into a controversy” with the head of government of an IAEA member. “We never politicize. We have our standards and we always apply them,” he said.
“The politicization is in the eye of the beholder,” Grossi added.
Israel considers Iran its greatest enemy, and Netanyahu has repeatedly said he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. He said international diplomacy should be accompanied by a serious military option and hinted that Israel would be ready to strike Iran alone if necessary.
Ahead of Netanyahu’s comments, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement Friday that the explanations provided by Iran regarding the presence of nuclear materials at the Marivan site are “neither reliable.” nor technically possible.
But Grossi insisted the IAEA would “never, ever” lower its safeguards standards.
“We were strict, technically impartial and, as I like to say, very fair but firm,” he said.
Analysts had repeatedly linked Marivan to a possible clandestine Iranian military nuclear program that the IAEA, the West and others said had been abandoned in 2003. They had accused Iran of carrying out high explosive tests in the early 2000s.
Last week’s IAEA report said “another member state” operated a mine in the area in the 1960s and 1970s during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, without giving further details.
Iran had argued that the traces of uranium could have come from “instruments and laboratory equipment” used by miners at the site. The IAEA called the answer “a possible explanation.”
The IAEA is still seeking explanations for the origin and current location of the man-made uranium particles found at two other sites in Iran, Varamin and Turquzabad.
Tehran has long denied ever researching nuclear weapons and continues to insist that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.