UN nuclear watchdog: Iran removing 27 surveillance cameras | World News

The head of the UN’s Nuclear Watchdog Agency said on Thursday that Iran is removing 27 surveillance cameras from the country’s nuclear sites, raising the risk that its inspectors are unable to track Tehran’s progress as it is closer to arms-grade levels than ever before.

Rafael Mariano Grassi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made the comments at a news conference in Vienna suddenly, standing beside the example of cameras installed throughout Iran.

Grassi said the move poses a “serious challenge” to its efforts, warning that within three to four weeks, Iran’s program will not be able to maintain “knowledge continuity.”

Gracie said it was “a deadly blow” to talks on Iran’s worsening nuclear deal with world powers.

“When we lose it, it’s anyone’s guess,” he said.

Iran has not immediately agreed to the removal of the cameras, despite Wednesday’s threats of further action amid years of crisis that threaten to escalate into further attacks across the Middle East.

Gracie said he would still drop “40-something” cameras in Iran. Grassi said sites looking to remove the cameras include its underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility and its facility in Isfahan.

“We are in a very tense situation with negotiations at a low tide (nuclear deal),” Gracie added. “Now we’re putting this into the picture; It’s not as good as you can see. “

On Wednesday, Iran said it had discontinued two devices used by the IAEA to monitor enrichment in Natanz. Grassi acknowledged that the devices being removed include an online enrichment monitor and a flowmeter. They view the enrichment of uranium gas by piping in enrichment facilities.

Iran’s decision comes after the IAEA board condemned Tehran for failing to provide “credible information” on man-made nuclear material found at three unannounced sites in the country.

The IAEA said on Thursday that it had informed Grassi members that it had informed Iran that two new cascades of IR-6 were planned to be installed in Natanz. The Cascade is a series of centrifuges tied together to rapidly rotate uranium gas.

An IR-6 centrifuge rotates uranium 10 times faster than first-generation centrifuges, which Iran once confined to world powers under its nuclear deal. By February, Iran was already turning on a cascade of IR-6s at its underground facility in Fordo, according to the IAEA.

Iran has previously said it plans to install a cascade of IR-6s in Natanz. The IAEA said on Monday it had “reviewed” the ongoing installation of that cascade, but two newly promoted new cascades have yet to be launched.

Iran and the world powers agreed to a nuclear deal in 2015 that would severely limit Tehran’s enrichment of uranium instead of lifting economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal, heightening tensions throughout the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

In Vienna, talks on Iran’s worsening nuclear deal stalled in April. After the collapse of the deal, Iran operates advanced centrifuges and has a rapidly growing inventory of enriched uranium.

Non-proliferation experts have warned that Iran is sufficiently enriched up to 60% purity – a small technical step from the 90% level of the weapons grade – if it decides to make a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists its program for peaceful purposes, although UN experts and Western intelligence agencies claim that Iran had an organized military nuclear program by 2003.

Analysts say it will take even longer if Iran adopts a weapon to build a nuclear bomb, though they warn that Tehran’s advances will make the program more dangerous. Israel has previously threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike to block Iran – and is already suspected in a series of recent killings targeting Iranian officials.

Iran has already been holding footage from IAEA surveillance cameras since February 2021 as a pressure tactic to restore the nuclear deal. Iran’s nuclear energy firm, which runs its civilian nuclear program, has released a video showing its workers turning off two IAEA cameras on normal and backup battery power on Wednesday.

At the IAEA meeting in Germany, France, the UK and the US-sponsored Vienna, the condemnation resolution was approved with the support of 30 of the 35 governors. Russia and China voted against it, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov wrote on Twitter. India, Libya and Pakistan remained far away.

After the vote, a joint statement from France, Germany and the UK and the US said that the condemnation would send an unequivocal message to Iran that it should fulfill its security obligations and provide technically credible clarifications on outstanding security issues.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has criticized the condemnation as “political, wrong and constructive.”

An Iranian official first warned IAEA officials that Tehran is now considering taking “other measures.”

“We hope that they will come to their senses and respond to Iran’s cooperation with cooperation,” said Behruz Kamalwandi, an Iranian nuclear spokesman. “It is unacceptable that they will show inappropriate behavior while Iran continues to cooperate.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the vote as a “significant decision to reveal the real face of Iran.”

“The IAEA vote is a clear warning to Iran: if Iran continues to do so, major countries should return the matter to the UN Security Council,” Bennett said on Thursday in an unannounced visit to the United Arab Emirates.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian called the US “the culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis” and urged the US to “respond positively to the legitimate concerns of the Iranian side.”

On Wednesday night, a drone exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil in its Kurdish area, killing three people and injuring cars and a nearby restaurant, officials said. The Kurdistan Region Terrorism Control Directorate on Thursday accused Iran of launching an Iranian-backed Kateb Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades drone.

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