International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned that monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program by the UN watchdog is no longer “intact”, after Tehran refused requests to repair cameras at a key facility.
Grossi said Iran has allowed the IAEA to access most of its cameras to service them with new batteries and memory cards, with one important exception: A facility in the Tehran suburbs that makes centrifuge parts and was damaged in June in what Iran says was an act of sabotage by Israel.
In an interview with NBC News, Grossi said he’s been unable to establish the type of direct communication with Iran’s government that he had before a new hardline government run by President Ebrahim Raisi was elected in June.
“I have never spoken to the new foreign minister,” Grossi says. “I hope to be able to have the opportunity to meet with him soon because it’s very important.”
Although IAEA director general said he had “no indication” that Iran is currently racing for a bomb, he said the world needs look no further than North Korea to understand what’s at stake.
IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in 2009, and the country is now believed to have dozens of nuclear warheads.
“The case of the DPRK should remind us of what may happen if diplomatic efforts go wrong,” Grossi stated. “It’s a clear example, it’s an indication, it’s a beacon. If diplomacy fails, you may be confronted with a situation that would have enormous political impact in the Middle East and beyond.”
The Biden administration and European partners want to restore the deal but after six rounds of talks, negotiations have stalled following Raisi’s election.
Now the US and Israel are speaking more openly about a “Plan B” – widely perceived to mean a military option to stop Iran’s nuclear program if diplomacy fails.
“We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this month during a joint appearance with Israel’s top diplomat.