VIENNA (Dispatches) – Iran on Wednesday denounced a "U.S.-Israeli plot" to put pressure on the UN nuclear agency, after the IAEA called for more cooperation from Tehran following what was alleged as the detection of uranium particles at a site.
Reuters quoted unnamed "diplomats” as saying that the agency wanted Iran to explain how traces of uranium were allegedly found at a site that Zionist PM Benjamin Netanyahu described a year ago as a "secret atomic warehouse" at a carpet cleaning shop near Tehran, drawing ridicule from many Iranians.
"Since two days before this session of the Board, we are witnessing a U.S.-Israeli plot with the support of their affiliated media," Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, said in a statement to an IAEA Board of Governors meeting that began on Monday.
He singled out former US National Security Adviser John Bolton, a hawk on Iran who left his job on Tuesday. On Saturday, hours before the IAEA's acting chief flew to Tehran for a visit, Bolton had said that Iran "may be concealing nuclear material and/or activities".
Netanyahu also claimed on Monday that Iran had been developing nuclear weapons at a different site that Tehran had since destroyed.
John Bolton's remark wishing to set an agenda for the visit of the Acting DG on the night that he was on his way to Tehran, along with the media campaign done by two news agencies, as well as the show played by the Israeli regime prime minister, all-in-all indicate that a joint project is underway," Gharibabadi said.
"These show-off measures are aimed at increasing pressure on the Agency, hitting the last straw on the JCPOA," he said, referring to Iran's nuclear deal with major powers by its full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Washington exited the nuclear agreement last year and has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Iran has responded by announcing some steps to exceed thresholds in the agreement but says it still aims to keep the pact in place.
When asked by reporters whether traces of radioactive material had been found and why the IAEA is pushing for better cooperation, Gharibabadi said such issues are confidential and Iran is "timely and proactively cooperating" with the IAEA.
He also took a swipe at the Zionist regime, which is widely believed to possess several hundred nuclear weapons and has a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear capabilities.
"Israel talking about adhering to non-proliferation is like (the) mafia talking about adhering to the laws against organized crimes," he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif also responded to the occupying regime of Israel’s claims on Twitter, saying, "The possessor of REAL nukes cries wolf—on an ALLEGED ‘demolished’ site in Iran.”
In his remarks to the UN meeeting, Gharibabadi also commented on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions pursued under the auspices of U.S. President Donald Trump.
He said the kingdom was developing a "very opaque and vague” nuclear program, adding that although Riyadh had signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it followed the IAEA’s small quantities protocol.
Saudi Arabia signed in 2005 the so-called small quantities protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which exempts countries with no or minimal nuclear programs from inspections.
Riyadh, which is constructing a nuclear reactor, has so far resisted calls by the IAEA to implement proportionate safeguards and an inspection regime that would prohibit possible deviation towards weaponization.
Gharibabadi said Saudi Arabia’s policies were regrettably supported by the U.S. government for political and economic gains.
He said countries must make it clear to Saudi Arabia that the international community will not tolerate any deviation from a peaceful nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia has announced plans to spend $80 billion to build 16 nuclear reactors over the coming two decades.
Back in March, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia as the Trump administration has quietly pursued a wider deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with the kingdom.
Analysts have warned that a nuclear Riyadh under its "reckless” leadership would pose a threat to the countries in the region.
"The small quantities protocol was designed to simplify safeguards for states with minimal or no nuclear material, but it is no longer adequate for Saudi Arabia's expanding nuclear program,” Kelsey Davenport, director of Nonproliferation Policy at Arms Control Association, told Middle East Eye in June.
U.S. lawmakers have also expressed concern that sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.