Iran nuclear data leak giving US headache: Top Iran nuclear official

The top Iranian nuclear energy official says the fallout from the recent leak of confidential information about Iran’s nuclear program to the media has entangled the United States.

Speaking to Fars news agency on Monday, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said the information leaked testifies to the brilliance of the Iranian officials who negotiated the agreement that has been leaked.

Last month, the Associated Press (AP) said it had obtained a “secret” document that it said showed Iran’s scaling back of its nuclear program under a nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries “will start to ease years before the 15-year accord [i.e. the original Iran nuclear deal] expires.”

The “secret” document the AP was referring to was in fact a road-map signed — publicly — between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) simultaneously with the nuclear deal Iran struck with the P5+1.

The IAEA has been tasked with monitoring the technical aspects of the Iran-P5+1 deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and which was struck in July 2015.

To provide for IAEA involvement, Salehi himself signed the road-map with the IAEA back in July 2015. The contents of the road-map were, however, declared “confidential” because it contained sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear program.

The road-map, nevertheless, ended up in the newsrooms of the AP.

Iran strongly protested to the IAEA over the leak. The atomic agency claimed it had nothing to do with it.

In his Monday remarks, Salehi said, “The very same issue (the leak of the information) has turned into an issue within the United States,” where he said “the Americans are now asking why Iran’s nuclear breakout [time] has been reduced from one year to four months.”

“Thus,” Salehi said, “they (the Americans) should rather be worried.”

The so-called breakout time is a term coined by the Western countries to refer to the time they said Iran needed to produce enough highly-enriched uranium or bomb-grade plutonium for a single atomic weapon. Iran has long maintained that it never sought and will never seek to build such a weapon.

Under the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic has agreed to roll back certain aspects of its nuclear program — including the volume of its uranium stockpiles enriched to the 20-percent level — and has provided international atomic monitors enhanced access to its nuclear facilities.

The JCPOA resolved the long-running dispute over the Iranian nuclear program.

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