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Iran Briefly Detained, Seized Travel Documents of UN Nuclear Inspector: Report

An Iranian flag flutters in Vienna, Austria, September 9, 2019. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Iran last week briefly detained and seized the passport of an inspector for the United Nations nuclear watchdog, a significant demonstration of non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The female inspector was detained at the Natanz nuclear facility and her travel documents confiscated by Iranian officials, Reuters reported. Iran has confirmed it held up an inspector, blocking her from accessing the Natanz site over concerns that she was carrying “suspicious material.”

International Atomic Energy Agency officials familiar with the situation described Iran’s actions as harassment. More than 130 inspectors are commissioned by the IAEA to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities and ensure they comply with the terms of the nuclear deal. Under the agreement, Iran is required to provide inspectors with “regular access, including daily access as requested by the IAEA, to relevant buildings at Natanz.”

However, tensions between Iran and the U.S have escalated since May of last year when the Trump administration pulled out of the Obama-era nuclear deal, which gave Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for tighter restrictions on the state terror sponsor’s nuclear facilities.

The detention incident is scheduled to be brought up at this Thursday when the IAEA’s Board of Governors, which includes 35 countries, convenes for a meeting.

The report of the incident comes a day after Iran announced it will resume operation of more than 1,000 previously empty centrifuges, although it is unclear whether Iran will begin enriching uranium, a step closer to building a nuclear weapon.

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