by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
U.S. is worried Iran is seeking "central nervous system-acting chemicals for offensive purposes," Kenneth Ward tells Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Iran has not declared all its chemical weapons capabilities to the global Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in violation of international nonproliferation conventions, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said on Thursday.
Ambassador Kenneth Ward told an OPCW conference in The Hague that Iran had failed to report a production facility for the filling of aerial bombs and maintains a program to obtain banned toxic munitions.
"The United States has had longstanding concerns that Iran maintains a chemical weapons program that it has failed to declare to the OPCW," Ward said.
"The United States is also concerned that Iran is also pursuing central nervous system-acting chemicals for offensive purposes."
Iran failed to declare the transfer of chemical weapons to Libya in the 1980s, even after Libya declared them to the OPCW in 2011, he said.
Ward cited the discovery of chemical-filled artillery projectiles, mortars and aerial bombs of Iranian origin as proof that Iran did not fully disclose its capabilities.
Iran denied the claims on Friday, describing the U.S. allegation as groundless, state TV reported.
"Once again America has leveled groundless accusations against Iran ... which we strongly reject," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Iranian TV.
Qasemi said Washington's aim is to divert international attention from its continued support for Israeli chemical arsenals.
Tensions have increased between the U.S. and Iran since May, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers and reimposed sanctions.
The U.N. atomic watchdog policing the pact reaffirmed on Thursday that Iran was implementing its side of the nuclear deal, two weeks after the latest wave of reimposed U.S. sanctions against Iran took effect.
"Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the official name of the nuclear accord]," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano told a quarterly meeting of the agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors.
"It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments," he said, confirming the findings of a confidential report to IAEA member states last week.
Amano did not comment on the broader impact of U.S. sanctions, the latest round of which took effect on Nov. 5. Iran has warned it could scrap the deal if signatories France, Britain and Germany and their allies fail to preserve the economic benefits promised by its terms.
The European powers have been working on setting up a so-called special-purpose vehicle that would act as a kind of clearing house to match Iranian exports with EU exports in what amounts to a barter arrangement to circumvent U.S. sanctions.
But the countries they have approached to host it have declined, diplomats say, delaying the project and deepening doubt as to whether Europeans can counteract the bulk of U.S. sanctions targeting oil and other vital sources of income.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran has no intention of renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
Speaking at an international conference in Rome, Zarif said the Iranian people would endure the U.S. sanctions.
News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
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