UN atomic of­fi­cial in Iran as it runs ad­vanced cen­trifuges

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Nasser Karimi and Jon Gam­brell

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran de­fended Sun­day its de­ci­sion to use ad­vanced cen­trifuges pro­hib­ited by its un­rav­el­ing 2015 nu­clear deal with world pow­ers as a vis­it­ing top of­fi­cial of the United Na­tions atomic watch­dog urged Tehran to of­fer “time and ac­tive co­op­er­a­tion” with his in­spec­tors.

The visit and com­ments by Cor­nel Feruta, act­ing direc­tor­gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, show the pres­sure his or­ga­ni­za­tion is now un­der as Iran steps fur­ther away from the deal the IAEA is meant to mon­i­tor.

Also Sun­day, a top U.S. Trea­sury of­fi­cial vis­it­ing Abu Dhabi in­sisted that Iran’s oil ex­ports “have taken a se­ri­ous nose­dive” af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew Amer­ica from the ac­cord and im­posed sanc­tions on its en­ergy in­dus­try. Her com­ments came as Iran ac­knowl­edged its oil tanker pur­sued by the U.S. had “docked on the shores of the Mediter­ranean Sea” af­ter satel­lite images showed it off the coast of Syria, de­spite a pledge by Tehran it wouldn’t go there af­ter be­ing seized.

Iran has al­ready crept past lim­its the deal im­posed on nu­clear en­rich­ment and its ura­nium stock­pile. It is try­ing to pres­sure Europe to find a way to sell crude oil abroad de­spite U.S. sanc­tions.

Mean­while, mys­te­ri­ous at­tacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hor­muz, Iran shoot­ing down a U.S. mil­i­tary sur­veil­lance drone and other in­ci­dents across the wider Mid­dle East fol­lowed Trump’s de­ci­sion.

Feruta met with Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif and Ali Ak­bar Salehi, head of Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, while in Tehran. He is serv­ing as the IAEA’s act­ing direc­tor af­ter the death of late direc­tor-gen­eral Yukiya Amano in July.

While Iran con­tin­ues to pull away from the deal, Tehran has made clear it wants IAEA in­spec­tors to con­tinue their work. But of­fi­cials blamed Euro­pean lead­ers for be­ing un­able so far to of­fer a way for Iran to sell its crude oil around U.S. sanc­tions. A pro­posal by France to of­fer a $15 bil­lion line of credit failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize. China, Bri­tain, France, Germany and Rus­sia all were par­ties to the ac­cord.

“There is the is­sue of the Euro­pean Union, which was sup­posed to fill the vac­uum cre­ated af­ter Amer­ica (left the deal) but un­for­tu­nately they could not act the way they had promised,” Salehi said.

He added: “They have put us in a com­pli­cated and crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.”

For his part, Feruta fol­lowed the same care­ful pat­tern of the late Amano by try­ing to say as lit­tle as he could.

“We do of course ex­press the view that timely and ac­tive co­op­er­a­tion is very im­por­tant, and also the fact that time is very im­por­tant,” he said.

That mir­rored a line in a re­cent IAEA re­port on Iran that sug­gested Tehran wasn’t as forth­com­ing an­swer­ing ques­tions as it hoped. Both the U.S. and Is­rael have been ag­i­tat­ing the IAEA to look fur­ther into a ware­house where Is­rael says its spies seized se­cret ma­te­rial from Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

Speak­ing on Europe 1 ra­dio on Sun­day, French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian said Iran’s “dis­en­gage­ment” from the deal’s terms was caus­ing ten­sions, but added “the chan­nels of dia­logue re­main open.”

As Feruta vis­ited Tehran, a top U.S. Trea­sury of­fi­cial trav­eled to the United Arab Emi­rates, where she her­alded the sanc­tions the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion al­ready im­posed on Iran’s oil in­dus­try.

Si­gal P. Man­delker, the un­der­sec­re­tary for ter­ror­ism and fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence at the U.S. Trea­sury, told jour­nal­ists in Abu Dhabi the sanc­tions cut deeply into Iran’s gov­ern­ment rev­enues, with­out of­fer­ing specifics, and new warn­ings had been is­sued to those who would pur­pose­fully or mis­tak­enly buy Ira­nian crude oil.

She ac­knowl­edged that the Ira­nian oil tanker Adrian Darya-1, which Gi­bral­tar seized in July and later re­leased, had made it to Syria.

Au­thor­i­ties there say Iran had promised the ship, which car­ries 2.1 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil worth some $130 mil­lion, wouldn’t go to Syria.

VAHID SALEMI/AP

Iran’s Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, left, greets Cor­nel Feruta of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency on Sun­day.

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