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Israel slams IAEA for closing two Iran nuclear sites probes

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry slammed the IAEA for caving into Iranian pressure and ending two probes on traces of enriched uranium found at the Fordo and Marivan sites.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi arrives for the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Vienna, Austria, March 6, 2023.

Slamming the decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to end probes into two Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that Israel will take whatever action is needed to defend itself against the Islamic regime

"I hear all the [recent] publications on Iran, so I have a very clear message to Iran and to the international community. Israel will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons," said Netanyahu in a video message posted on Twitter. 

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the IAEA has decided to close two out of four investigations over traces of enriched uranium particles found at nuclear sites in Iran.  

According to the AP publication, IAEA inspectors no longer had questions on the particles enriched to 83.7% found at the underground Fordo nuclear facility. Iran had argued the Fordo particles were in fact a byproduct of its current enrichment process, as particles can reach higher enrichment levels in fluctuations, a response the IAEA had accepted as plausible. 

“The agency informed Iran that, following its evaluation of the data, the agency had assessed that the information provided [on Fordo] was not inconsistent with Iran’s explanation … and that the agency had no further questions on this matter at this stage,” the IAEA report said. 

According to the publication, investigators had also closed off their probe into traces of man-produced uranium found at Marivan, a site exposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2019 as a secret nuclear facility. Iran had argued that the traces of uranium at Marivan could have come from “laboratory instruments and equipment” used by miners at the site in the 1960s and 1970s.

The AP publication quoted the IAEA report on the probes saying that “the agency at this time has no additional questions on the depleted uranium particles detected at Marivan … and the matter is no longer outstanding at this stage.” 

While noting the alleged progress in cooperation of Iranian authorities with IAEA inspectors, the agency report also said that Iran has significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months, with its stock now reaching more than 23 times the limit set out in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international agreement that saw Iran limit its nuclear capability in the exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions. 

On Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the video released by Netanyahu, the spokesperson of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Lior Haiat published a statement lambasting the IAEA decision to end the probes for allegedly caving in to Iranian pressure. 

"Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community,” the Israeli official alleged. He added that “the information in the file implicitly points to two faces of blatant Iranian violations of the inspection agreements."

"Closing the case could have extremely dangerous consequences, and it conveys a message to the Iranians that they are not required to pay a price for their violations and that they can continue to deceive the international community on their way to achieving a full military nuclear program," Haiat added.

Addressing the AP publication, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Thursday that Israel may be required to act in the face of "intensifying" threats against it. “The dangers facing the State of Israel are intensifying and we may be required to fulfill our duty in order to protect the integrity of Israel and especially the future of the Jewish people," he said. 

The French Foreign Ministry told Al-Monitor on Thursday that the IAEA report on Iran’s large stockpile shows “an extremely worrying continuation of Iran's nuclear escalation, and what we still consider to be highly unsatisfactory cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in implementing Iran's commitments to cooperate," adding that these issues will be addressed at the next meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors on June 5. 

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