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U.S. Says Iran’s Detention of Nuclear Inspector was ‘Outrageous Provocation’ That ‘Must Have Consequences’

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The U.S. and European Union condemned Iran’s recent brief detention of a United Nations nuclear watchdog inspector, saying the country must face consequences for the “outrageous provocation.”

The female inspector was detained at the Natanz nuclear facility and her travel documents confiscated by Iranian officials last week. Iran later confirmed the inspector was blocked from accessing the Natanz site over concerns that she was carrying “suspicious material.”

The UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which commissions more than 130 inspectors to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities and ensure they comply with the terms of the nuclear deal, has accused Iran of harassment.

“The detention of an IAEA inspector in Iran is an outrageous provocation,” the U.S. ambassador to the watchdog, Jackie Wolcott, said in a statement to an “unprecedented meeting” of the IAEA Board of Governors, which includes representatives from 35 nations.

“All Board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences,” Wolcott said.

The European Union said it is “deeply concerned” about the incident.

“We understand that the incident was resolved and call upon Iran to ensure that no such incidents occur in the future,” the EU said in a statement.

Iran is required under the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration to ensure inspectors receive “regular access, including daily access as requested by the IAEA, to relevant buildings at Natanz.”

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA said the inspector has been repatriated and requested she be taken off the list of inspectors who examine its nuclear facilities. The Iranian envoy said the inspector had tested positive for traces of explosives but after coming back from the bathroom no longer did, arousing further suspicion.

Iran earlier this week announced plans to resume injecting uranium gas into more than 1,000 previously empty centrifuges, another breach of the nuclear deal. Whether the state terror sponsor will begin enriching uranium, a step towards building a nuclear weapon, remains unclear.

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