Wednesday 22 November 2017

Iran faces formal rebuke after it bars nuclear inspectors

Damien McElroy in London

Iran was facing a formal rebuke from the world nuclear watchdog yesterday after it barred two weapons inspectors from entering the country.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), claimed that the pair had falsified reports on the country's nuclear activities.

The inspectors were denied visas days after the United Nations strengthened sanctions on Iran as the regime in Tehran persists with efforts to enrich uranium.

The move is likely to force the IAEA board to reach a formal finding that Iran is not complying with its inspections regime.

Diplomats said the agency was already under pressure to issue a rebuke after Iran upgraded its enrichment of uranium to 20pc -- the threshold for weapons capacity -- in February.

The inspectors had also been at the centre of a dispute with Iran over the storage of uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility in the heart of the country.

"The uranium is sitting in the open in a huge slag heap with only a tarpaulin loosely thrown over it," said one Western official.

One Gulf analyst said Iran was trapped in a cycle of retaliation with the international community, which was only likely to escalate further.

Theodore Karasik, research director at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said: "It is part of the escalation ladder of tit-for-tat that is now beginning to emerge."(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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