Photo Credit: GPO YouTube screengrab
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals Iranian nuclear archives captured by Mossad from Tehran in April 30, 2018 presentation

“Iran is destroying what remains of the IAEA’s oversight and continues to challenge and threaten regional stability,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi warned Wednesday after Iran announced that it would limit international access to its nuclear sites.

The spokesman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Keivan Khosravi announced on Monday that the country will end the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspections beyond the safeguards agreement on February 23.

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Director-General of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi was informed of Iran’s move to stop the inspections during his visit to Tehran.

This suspension means that the IAEA will not be able to supervise Iran’s nuclear activities or send inspectors to sites where Iran is carrying out undeclared nuclear activities. Without oversight, Iran can continue to covertly advance its nuclear program.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Spokesperson Lior Haiat stated that “Iran continues to stockpile enriched uranium, deceive and conceal its ambition for a nuclear weapon, and is now destroying what remains of the IAEA’s oversight. Iran’s extreme steps demand an immediate international response.”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that Iran will continue its 20% enrichment of uranium, and will increase enrichment up to 60% “based on the country’s needs.”

The nuclear deal allows for 3.67% enrichment.

“Iran’s harming of the special oversight mechanisms of its nuclear facilities and suspension of the additional implementation protocol are extreme steps that cross all the red lines set out by the international community, and completely deplete the nuclear deal of its substance,” Haiat underscored.

Ashkenazi noted that “Iran’s policy is a declaration of intent as to its desire to continue to secretly develop nuclear capabilities. Israel sees this step as a threat, and it must not go by without response.”

Israel “will never allow Iran to control the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he stressed.

A report issued Tuesday by the IAEA Director-General stated that the UN’s watchdog is “deeply concerned” that Iran secretly kept “undeclared nuclear material” at an “undeclared location” and warned that Tehran continued to exceed “many limits” set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

The report determined that Iran executed undeclared activity with nuclear materials in at least four different sites, and did not report where the nuclear materials are currently located.

Ashkenazi said that the suspension of IAEA overnight should “serve as a wakeup call to those who refrained until now from responding decisively and practically to Iran’s ongoing violations of its international obligations.”

Grossi said in his report that Iran “needs to give answers” on the traces “in places they shouldn’t be,” and said the process with Tehran “has not yielded positive results for now.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US is concerned that “Iran is moving in the wrong direction. It is moving further away from its nuclear constraints.”

“Our objective in all of this remains to seek an outcome in which Iran and the United States resume compliance with their commitments under the JCPOA. These steps by Iran, the steps that we have spoken to, that the Iranians have spoken to publicly, are clearly moving in the wrong direction,” he said.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.