The U.N. nuclear watchdog harshly criticized Iran on Saturday for effectively barring several of its most experienced inspectors from monitoring the country’s disputed atomic program.
The strongly worded statement came amid longstanding tensions between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with monitoring a nuclear program that Western nations have long suspected is aimed at eventually developing a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the program is peaceful.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the IAEA, said Iran had withdrawn the designation of “several experienced Agency inspectors,” barring them from taking part in the monitoring of its program.
“Iran has effectively removed about one-third of the core group of the agency’s most experienced inspectors designated for Iran,” he said.
Grossi went on to “strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure,” saying it “constitutes an unnecessary blow to an already strained relationship between the IAEA and Iran.”