Covert Affairs

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Iran had access to confidential reports by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog almost two decades ago, which were used by top officials to prepare cover stories and forge records to hide suspected past work on nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

A series of documents provided by Middle East intelligence officials show how Iran used subterfuge tactics with investigators of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who were monitoring Tehran’s compliance with nuclear nonproliferation treaties and later, the 2015 nuclear deal.

According to the officials, Iranian intelligence received the classified materials, which were then shared among senior Iranian military, government, and nuclear-program personnel between 2004 and 2006.

The files and accompanying Persian-language Iranian records show multiple occasions in which Tehran misled investigators: One document described how Tehran took measures to keep a container containing radiation-monitoring equipment out of the hands of IAEA investigators by saying that it had been sold and that no trace of it remained.

Analysts and former IAEA inspectors affirmed the validity of the documents, which some described as a “serious breach of IAEA internal security.” Both Iran and the nuclear agency did not comment on the Journal’s report.

The agency’s files were among more than 100,000 documents and files seized by Israeli intelligence in January 2018 from a Tehran archive. Israel has given the nuclear archive to the US intelligence community and granted independent specialists limited access.

The US and IAEA have said for years that Iran has been opaque regarding its past nuclear work, efforts that continue to this day.

The recent findings and Iran’s continuous stonewalling of the agency’s investigations could further complicate the renewal of the 2015 agreement, which removed most international sanctions from Tehran.

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