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Iran complying with nuclear deal: UN watchdog

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VIENNA: Iran remains in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, a UN atomic watchdog report showed on Thursday, even as growing tensions between Tehran and Washington threaten to torpedo the landmark agreement.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to “dismantle” the “disastrous” accord between Iran and six major powers curtailing Tehran’s atomic activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

While US sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear work remain suspended, Washington has ramped up others related to Tehran’s support for “terrorism”, its ballistic missile programme and its human rights record.

Iran says this contravenes the “spirit” of the deal, an accusation fired back by Trump at Tehran because of the Islamic republic’s funding and supplying of armed groups “across the region”.

The 2015 accord covered only Iran’s nuclear activities and the new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly report, showed that these remained in compliance.

Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium — used for peaceful purposes, but when further processed for a weapon — did not exceed the agreed limit of 300 kilogrammes (661 pounds), the report said.

It added that Iran “has not pursued the construction of the Arak… reactor” — which could give it weapons-grade plutonium — and has not enriched uranium above low purity levels.

The number of enrichment centrifuges also remained as agreed, while Iran’s store of heavy water, a reactor coolant, was 111.0 tonnes after it exported 19.1 tonnes to an unnamed country.

Iran has previously inched above an agreed ceiling of 130 tonnes. The plant producing the heavy water was shut for maintenance earlier this year and has now restarted, the IAEA said.

Military sites

Trump is due in October to certify to Congress whether Iran is sticking to the nuclear deal. In July he told the Wall Street Journal he “would be surprised if they were in compliance”.

The Guardian this week cited former officials and analysts as saying that US intelligence is under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation.

Last week Trump despatched his UN envoy Nikki Haley to Vienna. The visit was widely seen as aimed at getting IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to seek access to military sites in Iran.

Such inspections would a sallow investigation into whether Iran is conducting research activities or developing equipment — banned under the deal — that might be related to making a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA is not thought to have requested any such visits, likely meaning that it has not seen or been given any information suggesting that any such activity has taken place.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday dismissed the idea of inspections at its military sites.

“Our commitments to the world are clear… our relations with the IAEA are defined by rules, not by the US,” Rouhani said in a televised address.

As well as the United States the hard-fought agreement also includes China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday there is “no alternative” to the deal.

Tehran has warned that if the deal falls apart it can ramp up its atomic programme again within days, giving Trump a second nuclear crisis to add to the standoff over North Korea.

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