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US presses IAEA to request inspections of Iranian military sites

The United States has called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to request access to Iranian military sites, in what is regarded as an attempt by the US to undermine a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.

According to Press TV, speaking at a news conference in New York on Friday, US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley said the IAEA had to use every possibility there was under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 group.

“We are encouraging the IAEA to use all the authorities they have and to pursue every angle possible with the JCPOA, and we will continue to support the IAEA in that process,” she said, using an acronym to refer to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known.

The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iranian compliance with the deal, a basically technical matter that falls within the agency’s area of expertise. The IAEA has consistently verified that Iran is in compliance since the deal started being implemented in January 2016.

The US is a party to the JCPOA, which was negotiated under former US President Barack Obama. But the administration of US President Donald Trump, which took over in January this year, has been opposed to the Accord and is believed to be looking for a way to potentially withdraw from it.

Apparently toward that end, Trump has ordered a “review” of the deal and has assigned a team of his confidantes to provide him with “options” other than certifying Iranian compliance to the Congress, which is a US contractual commitment necessary for the Congress to continue withholding nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

Haley had earlier traveled to Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, as part of the Trump administration’s “review” of the deal. There, she met with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

In her Friday remarks, and attempting to make her case for IAEA access to Iranian military sites, she accused Iran of past covert nuclear work. This is while when the JCPOA was implemented, the international nuclear agency permanently closed a file looking into such allegations against Iran, meaning that any such suspicions had been dispelled.

On Tuesday, Haley had claimed she was traveling to the Austrian capital to ask questions, not to push the IAEA to do anything.

But her visit has been generally viewed as part of the Trump administration attempts to seek a pretext to potentially withdraw from the deal, which the US president has long disliked.

Iran has complained about such political pressure being exerted by the US on the IAEA, which has purely technical responsibilities with regards to the JCPOA.