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IAEA fends off Israel pressure over Iran's 'secret warehouse'

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano insisted that the agency's independence was "of paramount importance" [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2018

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IAEA chief Yukiya Amano insisted that the agency's independence was "of paramount importance" for its work, dismissing Israel's claims that Iran is harbouring a secret atomic warehouse.
The UN's nuclear watchdog refused to "take at face value" Israel's claims that Iran is harbouring a secret atomic warehouse on Tuesday, fending off pressure to inspect the allegedly suspect site.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the claim in front of the UN General Assembly last week.

Without explicitly referring to a claim made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in front of the UN General Assembly last week, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano insisted that the agency's independence was "of paramount importance" for its work.

The IAEA "uses all safeguards-relevant information available to it but it does not take any information at face value," Amano said in a statement.

Netanyahu accused Iran of operating a "secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran's secret nuclear weapons programme."

He urged the IAEA to inspect the site.

Amano said the IAEA would not be told how to do its work.

"All information obtained, including from third parties, is subject to rigorous review," he said.

He said the IAEA's work "must always be impartial, factual, and professional."

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to scale down its nuclear activities and submit to IAEA inspections in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Israel bitterly opposes the deal and congratulated US President Donald Trump for walking away from it earlier this year.

The IAEA has repeatedly said that Iran is continuing to meet its commitments under the deal.

On Tuesday, Amano said that evaluations of Iran's compliance were “ongoing".

Netanyahu has often focused on Iran during his annual UN speeches, using his beloved props to bolster his claims. In one address he used a crude diagram of a bomb to illustrate just how "close" Iran was to building a nuke.

This time, he used annotated satellite maps as he alleged to the global body where Iran was hosting covert nuclear sites.

"What Iran hides, Israel will find," he threatened. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also dismissed the Israeli claims that Tehran was harbouring the alleged secret atomic warehouse.

"No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program," Zarif said in a tweet.

He called on Israel saying it was "time to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons" programme to international inspectors.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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