Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

IAEA Implicitly Backs Western Decision to Censure Iran

IAEA Implicitly Backs Western Decision to Censure Iran

Tuesday, 7 June, 2022 - 07:00
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi attends a press conference during an IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, 06 June 2022. (EPA)

The chances of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors issuing a resolution condemning Iran's non-cooperation with the UN agency are increasing amid reports that reviving the nuclear agreement with Tehran might unlikely happen.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called for ending the vicious cycle of the talks when Iran agreed to answer the Agency's questions about the presence of uranium particles in three covert sites.

He told the Board that Iran had not provided credible explanations to the IAEA's questions, which Iran rejected and warned the drafters of a resolution against Iran at the Board.

He refused to announce his position on adopting a draft resolution reprimanding Iran, to maintain his impartiality. However, during a press conference on Monday, he hoped to continue "efforts in finding a solution to this long-outstanding issues."

Ahead of the Board of Governors meetings, Grossi visited Israel and not Iran as he did on the eve of the last two meetings, which some viewed as a sign that the Agency was preparing to escalate its position towards Iran. He also did not receive an invitation to visit Tehran this time.

However, he denied that he had wanted to "send a political message" through his visit to Tel Aviv and his meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

In response to a question by Asharq Al-Awsat about the fears that Iran would halt its cooperation in the event of a council decision, Grossi said this will be a "reminder for Iran, and for us, and for everybody, that we really need to get down to work and clarify these issues that have been outstanding for too long."

"I believe that it’s in no one’s interest that the cooperation between the agency and Iran diminishes even further," he said.

Still, without adequate cooperation on Iran’s part, there is an “impasse” between the agency and Iran’s leadership, Grossi told reporters. "These issues will not go away - they are not solved, they are not clarified."

Two years ago, the Board issued its first resolution condemning Iran for not allowing international inspectors to collect samples from three undeclared locations in Iran.

Iran then agreed to permit inspectors into the locations but did not provide credible explanations for the presence of uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at Turquzabad, Varamin, and Marivan.

Israel provided the IAEA with files it had stolen from Iran's nuclear archive, which referred to the three secret sites.

Western countries postponed the introduction of a draft resolution condemning Iran for more than a year to allow efforts to revive the nuclear deal.

The IAEA refuses to abandon its investigation, even though the traces of uranium it found date back nearly 20 years or more, and Iran had stipulated that this investigation be closed as part of the Vienna negotiations to revive the 2015 agreement.

Grossi told reporters that he would not abandon this investigation and asserted that until Iran "provides technically credible explanations for the presence of uranium particles," the IAEA cannot confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran's declarations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

"The safeguards issues related to these three locations remain outstanding," added Grossi, noting that Iran is cooperating and providing answers, but those answers are not credible.

"Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency's findings at three undeclared locations in Iran. Nor has Iran informed the Agency of the current location, or locations, of the nuclear material and/or of the equipment contaminated with nuclear material that was moved from Turquzabad in 2018."

Grossi estimated that Iran is very close to getting enough material to manufacture a nuclear bomb.

The Board began its closed discussions ahead of a vote on a Western draft resolution prepared by the United States, France, Britain, and Germany calling on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to solve the outstanding issue on the three undeclared sites.

The IAEA signed an agreement with Iran last March, in which Tehran pledged to provide answers to the Agency about questions related to the inspectors' finding of uranium traces at secret sites.

The Board needs two-thirds of the votes to pass a draft resolution, given that it includes 35 countries, meaning that 24 votes are enough to adopt the resolution.

Based on the Board's member states in this session, it is expected that such a resolution will pass, despite the opposition of Russia and China.

Editor Picks