Iran has criticised the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after the agency raised concerns over changes made to equipment at its Fordow uranium enrichment plant. The IAEA said in a confidential report, leaked to the press, that Iran had substantially modified an interconnection between two centrifuge clusters enriching uranium to up to 60% at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), without first informing the agency.
Iran complained later an inspector had "inadvertently" reported the changes, and that IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi had issued the report although the matter had been resolved. Grossi’s report to IAEA member states said that the incident had occurred during an unannounced Fordow inspection in January. Inspectors found "two IR-6 centrifuge cascades... were interconnected in a way that was substantially different from the mode of operation declared by Iran to the agency".
In a subsequent joint statement, the USA, UK, France and Germany said: "As stated by the Agency, this unnotified change is inconsistent with Iran's obligations under its NPT-required Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement." It added: "Iranian claims that this action was carried out in error are inadequate…. We judge Iran's actions based on the impartial and objective reports of the IAEA, not Iran's purported intent."
Mohamad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said: "The agency’s position is regrettable." He added: "We immediately provided the [due] explanation [to the IAEA]… the agency’s inspector found out that they had made a mistake." He told IRNA: "We gave a letter to the agency that an inspector... made a mistake and gave an incorrect report. "But yet again the director-general of the agency released this issue to the media." He said it was "unprofessional and unacceptable" behaviour. "We hope that this practice will not be continued... because this is not acceptable for his reputation and the agency," he added.
Image: Mohammad Eslami, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (courtesy of ISNA)