Nuclear watchdog: Iran blocking access to two sites

The UN nuclear watchdog has expressed serious concern at Iran’s failure to grant it access to two suspect locations for more than four months. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2020

Nuclear watchdog: Iran blocking access to two sites

  • Iran increasingly in contravention with terms of nuclear deal
  • The country's uranium stockpile nearly eight times higher than the level agreed in 2015 deal

LONDON: The UN nuclear watchdog has expressed serious concern at Iran’s failure to grant it access to two suspect locations for more than four months.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had blocked inspections at two locations that it believed were active long before the internationally brokered 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
According to the report, the agency has questions regarding the possible “use or storage of nuclear material” at the two sites and claims that one of them “may have been used for the processing and conversion of uranium ore including fluorination in 2003.”
In an unreleased report expected to be published mid-June the Vienna-based IAEA expresses “serious concern” that the agency was barred from entering the sites.
The nuclear watchdog also said Tehran had not clarified its response to their questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.
In a separate report, the agency also noted that as of May 20 Iran had a stockpile of 1,571.6 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, nearly eight times the 202.8 kilogram limit agreed as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has rapidly accumulated uranium in 2020, with their stockpile growing by 550 kilograms since Feb. 19.
The stockpile’s highest level of enrichment now stands at 4.5 percent — breaching the 2015 agreement’s 3.67 percent limit.
In July 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the US, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union, which curbed Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return for economic incentives.
Under the deal, Tehran agreed that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
Iran also agreed to a monitoring regime that would allow international inspectors to gain access to sites suspected of nuclear weapons-related activities.
The IAEA’s latest findings come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the USA, which withdrew from the deal, with President Trump calling it the “worst deal ever.”

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Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

Updated 25 September 2020

Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

ANKARA: Turkish authorities on Friday issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a mayor, over pro-Kurdish protests six years ago, officials and local media said.
The warrants relate to October 2014 protests in Turkey sparked by the seizure by Islamic State (IS) jihadists of the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane.
Police were on the hunt for the 82 suspects in the Turkish capital and six other provinces, the Ankara chief public prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The prosecutor's office did not specify what offences the 82 are alleged to have committed.
But it said crimes committed during the protests included murder, attempted murder, theft, damaging property, looting, burning the Turkish flag and injuring 326 security officials and 435 citizens.
There was also a warrant for the mayor of the eastern city of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, Hurriyet daily reported.
Bilgen won the city in 2019 local elections representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is Turkey's second-largest opposition group in the parliament.
Of a total of 65 HDP mayors returned in those elections, 47 have now been replaced by unelected officials, with some detained on terror charges, the party said last month.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party -- which has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 -- but the party denies this.
Former HDP co-leaders, Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, were named in the investigation but both have been in jail since 2016 pending multiple trials.
The government accused the HDP of urging people to take part in the protests across Turkey that left 37 dead.
But the HDP blames Turkish police for the violence.