IAEA board adopts 1st resolution since 2020 critical of Iran

Vienna, Jun 8 (EFE).- The 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a draft resolution criticizing Iran for its lack of transparency and cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency.

The draft resolution text presented by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany “expresses (the board’s) profound concern that the safeguards issues related to … three undeclared (uranium enrichment) locations remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive cooperation by Iran, despite numerous interactions with the agency.”

This is the first time since June 2020 that the Vienna-based IAEA has passed a draft resolution critical of Tehran, but the agency has not been able to clarify the origin of radioactive traces found at three undeclared Iranian nuclear enrichment sites and opted to respond on this matter.

The agency also issued a call to Iran to comply with its “legal obligations,” referring to the agreement on safeguards for its nuclear program that Tehran signed with the IAEA.

In Wednesday’s vote on the resolution, 30 of the board’s 35 members voted in favor with only China and Russia voting against, while India, Pakistan and Libya abstained, diplomatic sources told EFE.

The resolution was presented after the most recent IAEA report on Iran in which the agency said that Tehran’s lack of transparency regarding its nuclear program makes it impossible for inspectors to provide guarantees that Iranian statements about its nuclear program are complete and correct.

Iran reacted in a preventive manner to the resolution, announcing a few hours before the vote that it would disconnect two IAEA monitoring cameras at one of its nuclear installation.

Tehran said that the radioactive traces, the origin of which the IAEA wants to determine, are due to sabotage – allegedly by Israel, Iran’s main enemy in the Middle East – but agency director general Rafael Grossi earlier this week called this explanation “not credible.”

Electronic monitoring of Iran’s nuclear activities has been limited since February 2021, when Tehran decided to cut direct access to such data for IAEA inspectors.

Since then, data from cameras are only being stored on hard disks, which – if the 2015 JCPOA nuclear is restored at some future point – may be analyzed by inspectors to reconstruct Iran’s nuclear activities in the interim.

Iranian Atomic Energy Agency spokesperson Behruz Kamalvandi justified switching off the United Nations’ agency’s cameras by saying that the IAEA has not considered Tehran’s “good will” in cooperating with the agency, which Iran accuses of “having a political agenda.”

Kamalvandi, who personally supervised the switching off of the cameras, also warned that Iran could “take other measures” if the IAEA continues to demonstrate “inappropriate behavior.”

At the same time, the Iranian agency said that 80 percent of the IAEA’s cameras will continue to function at the nuclear sites.

The clash between Tehran and the IAEA and Western countries on the agency’s board comes as negotiations to resurrect the JCPOA have been paralyzed since mid-March.

The JCPOA pact drastically limited Iran’s atomic program in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions against Tehran, but in 2018 then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the accord and once again imposed sanctions on Iran.

Tehran responded a year later by accelerating its uranium enrichment program, moving closer to acquiring enough enriched uranium to be able to build a nuclear weapon.

According to the latest IAEA report earlier this month, Iran has more than 3,800 kilograms (about 4.2 tons) of various grades of enriched uranium ranging from 5 percent to 60 percent, the latter being a level from which it could easily enrich to the 90 percent level, the level required to manufacture a nuclear bomb.

EFE jk/psh/bp

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