The mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in connection with Iran’s nuclear activities is strictly limited to technical issues and highly confidential, however the political exploitation of the issue is carried on by certain Western powers in stark contradiction with the principles of independence, impartiality, and professionalism that the the Agency is supposed to uphold. It also distorts the reputation of this international institution, which is only tasked with of conducting inspections. Tehran’s official view on the nature of cooperation with the IAEA which was announced by the Iranian Foreign Ministry this month and it is entirely consistent with the Agency’s statute.
This view was expressed in connection with the Agency’s latest report, which deliberately increased speculation on such issues as the state of cooperation between Tehran and the IAEA and the allegedly numerous obstacles in its path. For example, Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, who is said to be fully controlled by Washington, announced without any evidence that the IAEA activities in Iran have allegedly been significantly weakened recently compared to any other period since the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) six years ago. He added that he was increasingly “concerned” about some alleged undeclared Iranian nuclear facilities and that Tehran needed to address these issues immediately.
Last month, the IAEA mentioned next-generation centrifuges and stockpiles of uranium metal, and Rafael Grossi said Iran had launched a new cascade of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium to 60% and did so in reference to the entirely “independent” Reuters agency. Not the IAEA, which has hundreds of inspectors at its disposal, but Reuters, apparently on behalf of the CIA, also stated that Iran, in addition to 164 cascades of IR-6 centrifuges, had also launched a new cascade of 153 IR-4 centrifuges at Natanz. In addition to issues related to the cascade, there is another issue in the report, namely, the increasing uranium metal enrichment and stockpiles. And, according to the IAEA, Iran has produced 200 grams of uranium metal enriched by 20%.
Immediately after the publication of the new IAEA report, the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi reacted to it by stating: “All of Iran’s nuclear activities, including enrichment at various levels and the production of uranium metal, are conducted within the framework of Iran’s nuclear rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and are in full compliance with safeguards obligations.” Iran had been working closely with the IAEA since 2013 when the nuclear talks began until the one-year anniversary of the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
This year, unannounced inspections were conducted on average three times a month. According to the report, the Agency has also increased the number of active inspectors in Iran to 285, an increase of 6%. The report states these inspections are characterized by random selection, unpredictability and rapid access that strengthen their deterrent effect in countries where inspections are conducted. Grossi earlier said in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel that his organization performed more than 400 inspections in Iran in 2018. Incidentally, the world remembers how similarly rude and unpredictable inspections were carried out in Iraq to find biological weapons there. It was then officially announced that Saddam Hussein allegedly possessed such deadly weapons. The United States undertook the “honorable mission” of ridding the world of bacteriological weapons by invading Iraq and throwing that once prosperous state back to the Middle Ages. Apparently, this is precisely the scenario the West is now trying to play out with Iran. However these are somewhat different times and will Washington have the power, means and finances to attack this huge Asian country?
It should be recalled that Tehran’s fulfillment of commitments related to the JCPOA is one side of the coin. And the need for other parties to honor their commitments is another that is equally important. Despite Iran’s voluntary compliance with its commitments, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA. At the same time, the European parties to the agreement took no tangible steps to salvage the deal and limited themselves to empty verbal support.
Given the prevailing circumstances, the Islamic Republic of Iran had no choice but to reduce its commitments, legitimately invoking paragraphs 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. According to these paragraphs, if the other party fails to comply with its obligations, Iran has the right to suspend its obligations in whole or in part. Concerning cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, the Iranians have suspended the voluntary implementation of the JCPOA after the Iranian Parliament passed a law called “Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Protect Iranian Nation’s Interest.” However, based on ratification, Iran continues to cooperate with the IAEA, often to its detriment.
Let’s recall that Tehran and the IAEA reached an agreement late last year. The agreement, which was supposed to last three months, was extended for another month after it ended without tangible results, and anti-Iran sanctions were not lifted. Since there were no changes to the sanctions through the fault of the US, Tehran did not insist on extending the agreement for the third time in July. Political experts believe that unlike the tenure of the late IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, this UN body is under the influence of Western powers in the new era. Ignoring 17 positive reports on Tehran’s constructive cooperation and the West’s failure to comply with its obligations, the latter seeks to exaggerate Iran’s nuclear activities.
The IAEA, led by Grossi and with enormous US influence, declares Iran’s nuclear activities a threat to the world. At the same time, Tehran continues to cooperate with the Agency under a safeguards agreement. However, the IAEA remains blistfully ignorant of certain nuclear-weapon states such as Israel, which is not a party to The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and has not even allowed IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.
From an observer’s perspective, the apparent politicization of the IAEA and the US insistence on continued sanctions will lead to an increasing reduction in cooperation between Tehran and this international organization. It is pretty straightforward that the deeper these differences get, the more difficult it will become to eliminate them. That is why it is expected the US will not use the IAEA to promote its policy, and the Agency will continue its mission while remaining independent in order not to further undermine the JCPOA and its position of an important international UN organization.
Many experts unanimously note that Grossi should first and foremost pay attention to the fact that Tehran’s determination to strictly fulfill its obligations and its long-term cooperation with the IAEA do not mean accepting unreasonable and unilateral demands. It is expected that the Agency will duly fulfil its mission and will not fall prey to the political gamesmanship of the great powers in its assessments of the peaceful nuclear activities of the Iranians. On this occasion, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated harshly: “Governing Board meetings are just regular meetings. I stress that neither side should calculate and go in a direction that could affect the Vienna talks. Everyone must note that the political use of the Agency’s technical platform will lead to a different response from Tehran.” It is pretty clear what steps Iran and its leadership will take in this case and how this will affect the situation in the entire Middle East.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .