VIENNA — The UN atomic agency expressed alarm yesterday about Iran’s decision to bar some inspectors, suggesting that its efforts to monitor the country’s nuclear program are suffering as a result.
The unusually blunt International Atomic Energy Agency warning followed Iran’s recent decision to strip two experienced inspectors of access to monitor its nuclear activities after the two reported what they said were undeclared nuclear experiments.
The Islamic Republic says the reporting by the two was inaccurate, but the IAEA stands by their findings. And the 11-page IAEA document issued yesterday devoted a special section to the complaint, reflecting the importance attached to it by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.
Such a section was included in only one previous report, after Iran withheld access from dozens of inspectors in 2006 and 2007 — most of them in order to show displeasure over recently passed UN Security Council sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Yesterday’s report said that objections by Iran to some experienced inspectors “hampers the inspection process and thereby detracts from the Agency’s capability to implement effective and efficient safeguards in Iran.’’
Diplomats from three countries accredited to the agency echoed the IAEA’s concerns in comments to the Associated Press, saying Iran appeared keen to ban seasoned inspectors — particularly those from nuclear weapons countries with special skills that could help detect attempts to make nuclear arms.
Iran rejected allegations of selective bans and intimidation of IAEA inspectors.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran’s chief delegate to the agency, said the IAEA currently has 150 inspectors able to work in Iran and noted that the report mentioned the country’s approval of five additional inspectors. That, he said, “is a clear indication that we have cooperated.’’