DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – The United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Thursday that it installed surveillance cameras to monitor a new centrifuge workshop at Iran’s underground Natanj site, following Tehran’s request, even as it Diplomatic efforts to restore its broken nuclear deal stalled.
Work on the new workshop began after Iran’s centrifuge facility in Karaj found itself the target of what Iran described as a sabotage attack in June., Natanz has been targeted twice in sabotage attacks Tehran has launched on Israel amid uncertainty over the nuclear deal.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday it installed cameras in the workshop and removed the seals from the machines. Those machines will be used to make centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows, critical parts for equipment that spins at very high speeds to enrich uranium gas.
“Iran informed the agency on Wednesday that the machines would start working in the new workshop on the same day,” the IAEA said in a statement. It did not elaborate on the location of the workshop at Natanz, a vast facility that includes laboratories and enrichment halls buried underground to protect them from air raids. Iran has been taking footage from IAEA surveillance cameras since February 2021 Also as a pressure strategy to restore the nuclear deal.
Iran did not immediately acknowledge the installation of the cameras, but had previously said it would move the plant in Karaj to Natanz.
Natanz became a flashpoint for Western fears about Iran’s nuclear program in 2002, when satellite photos showed Iran building an underground facility at the site, about 200 kilometers (125 mi) south of the capital Tehran. Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. However, US intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe that by 2003 Iran had an organized military nuclear program.
In July 2020, Natanz found himself targeted in a sabotage that blew up a centrifuge assembly building, In April 2021, a sabotage attack destroyed the centrifuge in its underground hall., Iran has since started building a new extension to Natanj in a nearby mountain.There is a possibility of further hardening of the site.
Israel suspects murder of scientist who discovered Iran’s nuclear military programhas indicated that he carried out the Natanz attacks,
The camera installation comes as efforts to restore the nuclear deal, in which Tehran limited its enrichment to lift economic sanctions, standoff over Iranian demands for the US to remove the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization appears.
Despite repeated Iranian claims that a separate deal would stabilize billions of dollars in assets, the State Department reiterated that no agreement is imminent on a prisoner swap or a nuclear deal.
“Our partners have not issued these restricted funds to Iran, nor has the United States authorized or approved any such transfer of restricted funds to Iran,” the State Department said late Wednesday.