Pompeo Calls on Iran to Provide IAEA Inspectors With Rights, Immunity

Iran’s Strategy Negotiate Using the Threat of Reneging on Its Commitments

Iran has said it stopped an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector from gaining access to its main uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz because she allegedly tested positive for traces of explosives - as the agency rejected Iran's holding of the inspector. This is the maximum enrichment rate to which Iran has limited itself since July, above the 3.67% ceiling set by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. "Iran does not need nuclear weapons given the power balance in the region", Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at a press conference, according to the Fars news agency.

Uranium enriched up to 5% is used as fuel for nuclear power plants, while 20% enriched uranium is used to fuel research reactors.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran was not supposed to enrich uranium at the site until 2030.

The current five percent level exceeds the limit set by the accord but is less than the 20% Iran had previously operated and far less than the 90% level required for a warhead.

In its fourth step away from the agreement, Iran resumed enrichment at the Fordo plant south of Tehran on Thursday, with engineers feeding uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) into the plant's mothballed enrichment centrifuges.

The EU and the United States called on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA in explaining the traces of uranium that was processed but not enriched.

"This is an important decision, the Iranian authorities are taking a new step forward, because with the Fordo site, which has more than 1,000 centrifuges, Iran has just significantly increased its uranium enrichment capacity", said Siavosh Ghazi, an Iran correspondent at FRANCE 24's sister radio station, RFI.

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Tehran's envoy to the United Nations nuclear watchdog told reporters that, after going to the toilet while waiting for a further search, the inspector no longer showed positive traces, which prompted a further investigation.

The US left the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, leaving remaining world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation - trying to save the agreement and mitigate the sanctions.

The AEO said she was denied entry to the facility on October 28, but it did not say if anything was found among her possessions when she was searched.

The inspector was allowed to leave Iran on 30 October, the memo obtained by Reuters said.

The IAEA said Thursday that her treatment was "not acceptable".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of "an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation", while the European Union voiced "deep concern" over the incident.

Over the past few months, Tehran has been steadily turning its back on the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

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