According to a breaking Axios and Israeli Channel 13 report the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has uncovered damning evidence of radioactive material at an Iranian nuclear site. The site at Turquzaba, Iran — which had previously been subject of a prop-laden Netanyahu presentation before the UN in September 2018 — "was used to store nuclear equipment and material" alleges Israel; however, Iran has long asserted the warehouse was nothing but a carpet factory.
It appears Israeli's elite intelligence agency Mossad was behind passing the initial information regarding Iranian efforts to "hide evidence" on to the IAEA and UN inspectors. Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously accused Iran of covering its tracks, allegedly removing 15 kilograms of undeclared enriched uranium from the facility a mere month prior to his UN speech.
According to Israeli reporter Barak Ravid, who broke the story of Israeli intelligence tipping off international inspectors, the IAEA is still sitting on the information and is in the process of prepping a report for UN member states. He reports the following in Axios:
- Israel passed information about the warehouse to the IAEA, and UN inspectors visited the site several months ago, Israeli officials tell me. Their last visit was in March.
- IAEA inspectors took soil samples to try and find evidence of radioactivity. The IAEA has since been analyzing the results and preparing a report.
- The tests came back positive, according to the Israeli officials, and in the last few weeks it became clear that the remains of radioactive material were found at the site. The officials say that indicates Iran was storing undeclared nuclear equipment or materials.
If accurate, this would be a serious breach of the 2015 JCPOA, which both Washington and Tel Aviv have long claimed Iran was already in breach of prior to Trump's unilateral US pullout from the nuclear deal in May 2018. Israeli officials described it as a "game changer".
Israeli officials leaking this information is an attempt to prove a severe violation; however, confirmation will only be determined if and when a final IAEA report does come out, yet no date has been given.
The Jerusalem Post reports that "top Israeli sources revealed that the IAEA is sitting on the information and has avoided making it public to date."
Between the time Mossad supposedly uncovered evidence of radioactive material at the site and IAEA inspectors actually arriving, there was concern that any and all on-site evidence would be wiped. But The Jerusalem Post report notes "there have been instances in the past where the Islamic republic’s cleaning crew was not careful enough and left behind traces which inspectors picked up on." Apparently that scenario happened in this case.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has continued to press the White House on keeping its "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran alive, with Netanyahu holding his second phone call with President Trump of the past week on Wednesday.