|IAEA backs Iran’s denial of Fordo blast||
TEHRAN – The UN nuclear watchdog made clear on Tuesday it had seen no sign of any explosion at one of Iran’s nuclear plants, backing up Tehran’s denial of media reports that such an incident had taken place last week, according to Reuters.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made a brief statement after some Israeli and Western media at the weekend reported there had been significant damage at the underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility.
IAEA inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear sites, including the one at Fordo, and the UN agency suggested in its comment that they had been at the facility after the reports of an explosion there.
“We understand that Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordo. This is consistent with our observations,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed statement in response to a question.
The United States said on Monday it did not believe the reports of an explosion at Fordo, which is buried deep underground to protect it against any enemy attacks.
On Sunday, Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who is the chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the news stories as Western propaganda designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.
Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi, the deputy director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, also said on Sunday, “No explosion has occurred at the Frodo facility.”
A new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) is expected in February.
Wrangling over dates and location has delayed resumption of talks between global powers and Iran aimed at reaching a diplomatic settlement to the decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and aimed at producing electricity. It says it needs 20 percent enriched uranium to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.
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