Israeli Official Says ‘Decisive Moments’ on Iran Closer After IAEA Shuts Nuclear Probes

The Iranian flag flutters outside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo)

The renewed momentum toward a nuclear deal with Iran alongside new information on the scope of its enrichment and the decision by the international atomic watchdog to shut two outstanding investigations have had Israeli decision-makers on edge.

An Israeli diplomatic official told Yisrael Hayom that Israel was “moving closer to the decisive moments in the face of the nuclear threat posed by Iran; we will not let Iran have a nuclear weapon.” The source made this comment after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on the status of Tehran’s nuclear program and the state of the investigations: “I have a clear message to Iran and the international community: Israel will do everything it needs to do in order to deny Iran a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed the IAEA for its decision to end the probe into two cases of undeclared nuclear activity, which have been a sticking point between Iran and the West on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The closure of the Marivan Iranian safeguard case by the International Atomic Energy Agency is a matter of great concern. The explanations provided by Iran for the presence of nuclear material at the site are not reliable or technically possible. Iran continues to lie to the IAEA and deceive the international community,” spokesperson Lior Haiat said.

He continued: “The yielding of the Director General of the IAEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency to Iranian political pressure is very disappointing, mainly because the information in the file implicitly points to two faces of blatant Iranian violations of the inspection agreements. Closing the case could have extremely dangerous consequences, and it conveys a message to the Iranians that they are not required to pay a price for their violations and that they can continue to deceive the international community on their way to achieving a full military nuclear program. In addition, closing the case in this manner severely damages the professional credibility of the IAEA.

The two confidential quarterly reports by the Vienna-based IAEA, distributed to member states of the organization, said inspectors no longer had questions on uranium particles found to be enriched to 83.7% at its underground Fordo facility. That had sparked tensions over the last several months as uranium enriched to 90% is weapons-grade material. Iran had argued those particles were a byproduct of its current enrichment as particles can reach higher enrichment levels in fluctuations.

“The agency informed Iran that, following its evaluation of the data, the agency had assessed that the information provided was not inconsistent with Iran’s explanation … and that the agency had no further questions on this matter at this stage,” the reports said.

The report said investigators also have closed off their investigation of traces of man-made uranium found at Marivan, near the city of Abadeh, some 525 kilometers (325 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Analysts had repeatedly linked Marivan to Iran’s secret military nuclear program and accused Iran of conducting high-explosives tests there in the early 2000s. The IAEA reports seen Wednesday also referenced that “Iran conducted explosive experiments with protective shielding in preparation for the use of neutron detectors and nuclear material” at the site.

The report said that “another member state” operated a mine in the area in the 1960s and 1970s under the rule of then-Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It wasn’t immediately clear which nation was involved in the mining.

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