UN Nuclear Watchdog Backs Iran's Denial of Fordow Explosion

The IAEA, in an unusual move, made a brief statement following media reports of significant damage at the underground Fordow uranium enrichment site.

Reuters
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The United Nations atomic watchdog made clear on Tuesday it had seen no sign of any explosion at one of Iran's most sensitive nuclear plants, backing up Tehran's denial that such an incident had taken place last week.

In an unusual move, the International Atomic Energy Agency, made a brief statement following media reports of significant damage at the underground Fordow uranium enrichment site.

IAEA inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear sites, including the one at Fordow. The UN agency suggested in its comment that they had been at the site after the reports in some Israeli and Western media 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 spomkeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed comment in response to a question.

The reports had said there had been an explosion early last week at the underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility near the holy Iranian city of Qom. Iran denied the reports on Monday, describing them as "Western propaganda" designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.

In late 2011 the plant at Fordow began producing uranium enriched to 20 percent fissile purity, compared with the 3.5 percent level needed for nuclear energy plants. The West says this takes Iran a significant step closer to producing weapons-grade material. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary and chief Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, January 4, 2013.Credit: AP
The Fordow nuclear facility under construction inside a mountain located about 20 miles north northeast of Qom, Iran. Credit: AP

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