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Iran rejects latest IAEA report, claims it is 'not up to date'

Despite Tehran's outright rejection, the UN watchdog's report on alleged secrecy at a leading Iranian facility has once again highlighted concerns that the Islamic Republic could be inching closer to developing a nuclear bomb.  
Iran's nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) dismissed concerns raised by the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) over possible weapons-grade activities at an Iranian nuclear facility, and that those cascades could be used for weapons-grade enrichment. 

In comments carried by the IRNA news agency, the Iranian atomic spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, declared on Wednesday that the UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi appeared not to be speaking based on updated data. 

"I suspect that his information is not up to date," he said. 

In its latest assessment, the IAEA said its inspectors had noticed "undeclared changes" to a chain of uranium enrichment machinery at the Fordo enrichment facility, one of the most sensitive sites in Iran that has long been at the core of Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West. 

The IAEA report obtained by Reuters noted that there was a linkage between two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges enriching uranium to a 60% purity at the plant, which was built underground 32 kilometers outside the central city of Qom. The change was described by Grossi as "substantial," as he criticized Iran's failure to inform the agency.  

But offering a different version, Kamalvandi said that an IAEA inspector had "reported the change by mistake" and that they were given explanations by Iranian officials. "The inspector realized the mistake," Kamalvandi said, adding that the issue had already been resolved at the time.

Relations between Iran and the IAEA have witnessed multiple ups and downs over the past two years. In recent months, the two sides have effectively been in a state of deadlock amid the IAEA's disappointment with Iranian cooperation over a probe in which inspectors seek answers on the origins of uranium traces at two undeclared locations. 

Yet following the recent stalemate, Grossi is expected to visit Iran once again in February. Tehran has repeatedly claimed that IAEA reports criticizing its behavior are "politically motivated" and that the IAEA chief is acting under pressure from Iran's enemies — on top of them, the United States and Israel.  

And the upcoming, not-yet-scheduled visit appeared to be already overshadowed by the content of the latest IAEA report, which has unsettled Iranian authorities.  

"If this visit is to create a political atmosphere like the one caused by the new report, the IAEA chief had better reconsider his trip," wrote Nour News, the media outlet run by Iran's most powerful decision-making body, the Supreme National Security Council. 

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