VIENNA – Iran alleged Thursday that the U.N. inspector it blocked from a nuclear site last week tested positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, disputed Iran's claim.
The allegation made by Iranian representative Kazem Gharib Abadi came as Iran injected uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear complex early Thursday, taking its most significant step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
It also dominated an IAEA meeting that included discussions about alleged radioactive material found at an undeclared site in Iran.
These latest steps by Iran put additional pressure on Europe to offer Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite the U.S. sanctions imposed on the country since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.
The Oct. 28 incident with the inspector happened at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, which includes the majority of the centrifuges now enriching uranium in the country. The entrance of Natanz includes equipment to check for traces of nitrates, Abadi said.
“The detector's alarm went off and it was signaling to a specific person,” he said.
As they waited for a female employee to search the inspector, the woman went off to the bathroom. Abadi alleged when she came back, she no longer tested positive. He said the team took samples from the bathroom, as well as seized her handbag.
Abadi said he hoped further tests by Iran and the IAEA would explain what happened.
Iran's nuclear industry has been targeted by sabotage and its scientists assassinated in the past.
“Needless to say that Iran, like all other members of the agency, cannot condone any behavior or action which may be against the safety and security of its nuclear installations, especially ... considering the past sabotage attempts in its nuclear facilities,” Abadi said.