UN nuke watchdog begins general conference amid tensions
Vienna, Sep. 16 (IANS): The 63rd International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference started amid heightened tensions over the Iran nuclear deal at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) here on Monday.
Many of the IAEA 171 Member States were scheduled to be represented at the meeting from Monday to Friday. Application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East and in North Korea, as well as issues related to radiation safety and ways of strengthening the agency’s technical cooperation activities were on the agenda, Xinhua news agency reported.
On the Iran nuclear deal crisis, IAEA acting Director General Cornel Feruta told a conference here: “A week ago I visited Tehran for talks with senior Iranian officials. I continue to emphasize the importance of full and timely cooperation by Iran in the implementation of its safeguards agreement and additional protocol.”
“The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement,” said the acting IAEA chief, adding that “evaluations regarding the absence of the undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday blamed Iran for launching the recent attacks on two Aramco oil plants in the east of Saudi Arabia, which caused major damages and halved Saudi oil output.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday rejected Washington’s claims that Tehran was behind the drone attacks, saying: “Such claims are baseless and are condemned.”
As a reaction to the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal — known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — and its sanctions on Tehran, and in a response to Europe’s “inactivity” to save Iran’s interests under the deal, Tehran has, since May this year, decided to scale back its obligations under the deal to build stockpiles of nuclear fuel and enrich low-grade uranium to a higher level of purity.
It also decided to start up advanced centrifuges to boost the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium.