Several female United Nations atomic agency inspectors were physically harassed by security guards at an Iranian nuclear facility, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, prompting the U.S. to ramp up pressure on Iran to stop such behavior ahead of a meeting of an international nuclear watchdog this week.
Male guards at Natanz, Iran’s primary nuclear site, inappropriately touched the female inspectors and instructed them to remove some articles of clothing, diplomats told the Journal. One diplomat said this happened at least four times, while another said there have been five to seven incidents since June.
A U.S. paper, obtained by the Journal, asked other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to issue statements condemning the behavior during a meeting of the body this week.
“Harassment of IAEA inspectors is absolutely unacceptable, and we strongly urge you to make clear in your national statement at the Board meeting that such conduct is deplorable and must end immediately, and that the Board should take appropriate action if further incidents are reported,” the U.S. paper reportedly said.
Such harassment of nuclear inspectors was previously alleged in 2019, when a female inspector was detained at the Tehran airport, taken to a hotel and stripped of her travel documents. Another harassment incident was reported in 2013 preceding a nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China and three European powers.
A diplomat described the most recent incidents as "more serious" than the previous harassment cases, adding that one woman was left "totally humiliated," according to the Journal.
The latest allegations come as Iran and the IAEA seek to restart talks on an international pact that fell apart under former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE.
Last week, the IAEA reported that Iran was not cooperating with an investigation into the discovery of unreported nuclear traces. The agency also accused Iran of prohibiting access to equipment used to monitor nuclear activities at nuclear-related sites, though Iran recently agreed to give the watchdog quarterly access, avoiding possible censure at this week's meeting.