Pompeo hits Iran on IAEA inspector, amplifies claim of undeclared nuclear materials

By Matthew Choi

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday criticized Iran for undermining international nuclear agreements, including by allegedly possessing undeclared radioactive material and impeding an international inspector's work.

During a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors on Thursday, representatives discussed an undeclared site outside Tehran that Israeli officials say holds an illegal stockpile of nuclear materials.

Though the details of the board's discussion were not publicly available, unnamed senior Israeli officials told The Associated Press the site housed undeclared nuclear material. The officials also said there were several other secret nuclear facilities run by the Iranian Defense Ministry outside its civilian program, the AP reported.

In his Friday night statement, Pompeo said that if Iran does have undeclared nuclear materials, it undermines the basis of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under former Secretary of State John Kerry. Pompeo has repeatedly argued the deal struck by the Obama administration — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — did not adequately deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"If true, the declarations upon which Secretary Kerry anchored the JCPOA are — once again — proven to be both false and fraudulent," Pompeo said. Iran has denied Israel's claims.

The Trump administration has long been hostile toward the deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew a year ago. Iran in turn has been upping its civilian nuclear activity, moving further away from the parameters of the agreement.

Pompeo also denounced Iran for its treatment of an IAEA inspector, whose accreditation was denied by Iran after it claimed she tested positive for explosive nitrates. The IAEA disputed Iran's characterization of the incident and said it would work with the country to clarify what occurred.

Pompeo opted for stronger language, saying the inspector had been "detained" in an "outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation."

"IAEA inspectors must be allowed to conduct their critical work unimpeded," his statement said. "We call on Iran to immediately resolve all open issues with the IAEA and to afford Agency inspectors the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled."