The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear program, released two days ago, reveals the organization made its last physical inspection of the Fordow nuclear facility over a month prior to deadly explosions that WND reported had occurred there on Jan. 21.
IAEA had refused to confirm or deny whether there was an explosion, but in statements to the media, implied that WND’s reporting was inaccurate and not reflected in what the agency’s own inspectors had observed.
Reported Reuters on Jan. 29: “IAEA inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear sites, including the one at Fordow, and the U.N. 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 Fordow. This is consistent with our observations,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed statement in response to a question …”
With release of Thursday’s report showing IAEA made its last physical inspection of Fordow between Nov. 17 and Dec. 3 of last year, it is now evident that Tudor’s statement was not based on observations made onsite.
The blasts at first trapped 219 workers, including 16 North Koreans. Iran denied the story, and within days after its denial both Reuters and Associated Press carried stories quoting IAEA to the effect that its inspectors had been at the site after the reported explosion and that IAEA backed Tehran’s denial. Other media, following Reuters’ and AP’s lead, published the same conclusion.
On Jan. 29, the same day Reuters reported Tudor’s statement, AP ran a similar story:
“The U.N. nuclear agency is dismissing reports of a major explosion at Iran’s fortified underground nuclear facility.
“International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Gill Tudor told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Iran’s denial of ‘an incident’ at the Fordow uranium-enrichment plant is ‘consistent with our observations.’ […]
“A diplomat familiar with the issue told the AP that the IAEA’s information came directly from IAEA inspectors at Fordow.”
According to the latest IAEA report, no physical inspections of the Fordow site have been conducted since Dec. 3. Furthermore, IAEA has neither onsite inspectors nor monitoring cameras stationed at the Fordow facility.
Prior to this week’s IAEA report, WND had asked Tudor to comment on WND’s reporting and to confirm whether inspectors had been onsite after Jan. 21.
“The agency does not evaluate matters in Iran other than those directly relating to its nuclear verification work, so although we’re aware of these media reports, we are not in a position either to confirm or deny them,” Tudor said in an email to WND.
“That said,” she continued, “I’m sure you are aware that agency inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s safeguards agreement with that country. (More information on IAEA’s safeguards mandate and activities in Iran can be found here.)
“We understand Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordow, and this is consistent with our observations,” Tudor said.
However, in a follow-up inquiry by WND to verify IAEA had inspected the site after the reported explosions, Tudor refused to answer.
“I’m very sorry, but I can’t go into any further details on ongoing safeguards work, which is conducted with a high level of confidentiality,” she replied.
Official IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear facilities show regular visits at Natanz, but not at Fordow. There, IAEA must obtain permission from its Iranian counterparts for an arranged and escorted visit.
Even the regime’s Fars News Agency in a Feb. 21 story, reflecting the new IAEA report, noted claims the Fordow facility was still up and running came directly from Iran itself when it filed the required Design Information Questionnaire with IAEA.
With it now known IAEA conducted no physical inspection at Fordow in at least seven weeks prior to the Jan. 21 explosions reported by WND, the impression left by media that no incident occurred at Iran’s most valuable nuclear site is seen to rest solely on IAEA echoing Tehran’s denials and falsely suggesting onsite verification.
WND will release an important, exclusive update on Fordow Monday morning.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).