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Iran Atomic Work Will Survive Natanz Blast, Monitors May Not

  • Explosion at key fuel facility has prompted watchdog scrutiny
  • Inspections are last pillar standing of landmark nuclear deal
Damage at the Natanz facility, some 200 miles south of Tehran.
Damage at the Natanz facility, some 200 miles south of Tehran. Source: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP Photo
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An explosion at one of Iran’s critical nuclear sites won’t significantly set back its enrichment of uranium, the essential fuel for atomic energy and weapons. But it could collapse the remaining pillar of the 2015 accord meant to contain the program -- international monitoring.

That’s the assessment of past and present arms-control analysts who’ve been tracking the fallout from the July 2 blast that destroyed a centrifuge workshop at the Natanz installation. They expect pressure to mount on International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, one of whom was briefly detained last year after being accused by Iran of spiriting explosive material into Natanz. The U.S. rejected that claim as attempted intimidation.