The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) strongly denounced, Tuesday, September 7, a great lack of cooperation on the part of Iran, which seriously undermines its mission of monitoring the nuclear program. “Since February 2021, verification and monitoring activities have been seriously hampered by Iran’s decision” to restrict inspections, the agency wrote in a report.
Initially, the Islamic Republic had found a temporary arrangement allowing the IAEA to continue to exercise a certain degree of surveillance. In particular, it made a commitment to provide data from cameras and other surveillance tools. But the compromise expired on June 24 and Iran did not follow through, despite several “Requests” from the UN agency.
Surveillance equipment should normally be serviced every three months, which raises the question of whether it is “Always operational”, commented a diplomat close to the file. In addition, at one of the sites, a camera was destroyed and another badly damaged following an incident.
Confidence “diminishes over time”
The agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi, had offered to visit Iran “To meet members of the new administration and address these issues”, is it also specified in the report. Yet the trip was not made, the same source stressing that Iran was visibly “Not ready to speak”. Under these conditions, the technical capacity of the IAEA to monitor the Iranian nuclear program is “Strongly compromised”, and “His confidence is reduced over time”, the agency added, calling on Iran to “Immediately rectify the situation”.
At the same time, Iran has dramatically increased its production of highly enriched uranium, in violation of its commitments, approaching the 90% needed for military use. According to estimates drawn up in August, Iran thus increased its stock of enriched uranium to 60% to 10 kg from 2.4 kg in May, while that of 20% fell from 62.8 kg to 84.3 kg. Iran is now well above the limit of 3.67% set by the nuclear deal. To achieve this, Tehran drew on its quantities of low-enriched material, which therefore fell from 3,241 kg to 2,441.3 kg.
In another document, the IAEA also denounced the failure to report four sites where nuclear material was detected. Iran still has not clarified the question, yet raised “About two years ago”, lamented the agency. The Islamic Republic has gradually freed itself from its nuclear obligations since 2019, in response to the reinstatement of US sanctions by former US President Donald Trump.
No resumption of negotiations for two or three months
Joe Biden said, meanwhile, wanted to reinstate the United States in the agreement, intended to prevent Iran from acquiring the atomic bomb. Talks that began in April in Vienna under the auspices of the European Union to try to revive it, in exchange for easing punitive American measures, were postponed on June 20, two days after the victory of the ultra-conservative Iranian president. Ebrahim Raïssi.
No resumption date has yet been announced despite repeated calls from the West, who are alarmed by the recent ramp-up of Iran’s nuclear program. At the end of August, Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, hinted that his country would not return to the table for two or three months.