UN, Western Officials ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Iran Holding IAEA Inspector

Iranian officials say inspector triggered an alarm

It’s often difficult to find reasons to rail at Iran’s nuclear program, when the IAEA is insisting they’re in compliance with their obligations. Last week, however, an IAEA inspector was very briefly detained at the Fordow enrichment site, and western officials are “deeply concerned.”

US officials were practically licking their lips as they declared it an “outrageous provocation,” and were trying to turn this into the sort of diplomatic controversy that it does not appear to be.

Iran offered a very plain explanation, and the facts do not appear to be in dispute. They say the inspector in question set off an alarm immediately on entering the site. The alarm detected nitrates, linked with possible explosives.

They checked her several times, and she kept setting the alarm off, while none of the other IAEA staff did. While Iran was waiting for a female staffer to search her, the inspector wandered off and went to the bathroom.

When the inspector got back, she was inexplicably no longer setting off the alarm. Iran says “alarming signals” were found in the toilet bowl at the site, and they are still investigating. Iranian officials added that past sabotage attempts meant they felt they had to be careful about people setting off alarms like that.

The IAEA, however, said it is never acceptable to prevent an inspector from leaving, even though Iran’s delay appears to have been quite brief. Iran, for its part, is requesting the IAEA not send that inspector again.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.