With the dust still settling after the United States and Israeli elections, next week will open a new era of controversy in Iran’s nuclear program.
The November 24-26 meeting of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will likely see a new resolution censoring Tehran over the ban on access to the agency. Reports emerged on Friday that the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom had submitted to the 35-member council a resolution calling it “important and urgent” to Iran to solve the union complaint.
The IAEA’s concern is twofold. First, as stated by the resolution, Tehran is not satisfied with the IAEA over the traces of uranium found in the facilities for the pre-2003 nuclear activities. There is little hope of breaking through in a meeting with Iranian leaders planned for later this month.
Ned Price, the US Secretary of State said on Thursday accused Iran of “foot-dragging.” Tehran has asked the IAEA to drop questions about the uranium line to help negotiations, now frozen, to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which the US abandoned in 2018.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price
The second major organization of concern is Iran’s reduction from February 2021 IAEA access to the nuclear program, which is now broadly based on the requirements of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty rather than a development from the JCPOA.
This reduced access, together with the issue of uranium lines, has took the organization’s director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi warning he may not be able to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. A statement released Thursday to IAEA member states noted that “The current situation is even longer the more uncertain it becomes. “
The agency monitors Iran’s uranium stockpiles, which it currently reports at 3,674kg, way above the 267kg JCPOA cap, including 62kg enriched to 60 percent, close to 90 percent gun.’ But Iran’s removal of inspection equipment in facilities where it makes centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, has given the agency the ability to rule on the entire project. While access to such facilities is not required under Iran’s NPT agreement, knowledge of the number and type of centrifuges Iran has planned and waiting for is essential for an immediate assessment. how the service can be expanded.
While Price said Thursday the U.S. is talking about its “partners in Europe,” the options for success appear slim. The IAEA board passed a resolution in June censoring Iran over uranium enrichment, and it is far from clear how the new resolution will be implemented. The document, as reported by Reuters on Friday, said Iran must “implement its legal obligations and … without delay … provide all information, documents , and the responses” required by the IAEA, including “access to facilities and equipment. …[and the] eat the samples” …
Unlike in 2006, when The IAEA has referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council over its atomic program, Russia and China will not reverse this program. Both hold UNSC vetoes and see the US as primarily responsible for the JCPOA’s demise.
Despite the decision to renew the JCPOA with President Joe Biden, the JCPOA’s critics in the US will feel encouraged by running away from the Democrats in the November 8 Congressional elections, even control of the House of Representatives and the Senate is still unclear.
‘Work with order’
The looming return to office in Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu after the November 1 Knesset election is another issue. Prime Minister Yair Lapid has developed a close relationship with the Biden administration despite emphasizing efforts to revise the JCPOA, while Netanyahu has previously been identified with President Donald Trump. Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday talked about the work done from the leaders leaving in preparation for a military attack on Iran, telling Netanyahu now “act with determination.”
While the crisis in Ukraine, Iran’s wave of internal protests, and Tehran’s continued cooperation with Moscow have all brought the United States closer to the three European JCPOA signatories – France, Germany , and the UK – Biden’s options appear limited.
Given “Iran’s dangerous proliferation of arms to Russia,” Price said on Thursday the US would “continue to apply full US sanctions against the Russian arms trade and Iran.” He admitted that while Washington is “looking at all the necessary tools” for dealing with Iran, it is already “being judged very harshly, to say the least … for all their negative activities. “