US and Europe dismiss IAEA warning in hope of reviving Iran nuclear deal

US and Europe dismiss IAEA warning in hope of reviving Iran nuclear deal ...
theguardian.com 08/06/2021 Politics

Keywords:#2015, #Europe, #France, #Germany, #IAEA, #International_Atomic_Energy_Agency, #Iran, #Iranian, #Natanz, #Rafael, #Rafael_Grossi, #Russian, #Theguardian.com, #UK, #US, #Vienna

By Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
Mon 7 Jun 2021 15.11 BST
The US and Europe have decided to set aside a fresh warning from the director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it is no longer possible to say with confidence whether Iran is seeking to build a bomb, as they press on with attempting to revive its nuclear deal with the west.
Rafael Grossi says Iran is not co-operating or providing any answers to questions his agency has posed after it found nuclear particles at four undeclared sites.
Grossi’s findings were reported to a board meeting of the IAEA in Vienna, and are deeply awkward for the US, France, Germany and the UK, which have collectively decided that the prize of a revived nuclear deal is so great they will not act on the complaints of the UN nuclear inspectorate, even if this temporarily risks the integrity of the UN inspection process.
The sixth round of nuclear talks is due to start in Vienna on Thursday in the hope that a brief pause to allow delegations to consult national capitals will achieve the required breakthrough; allowing the US to rejoin the nuclear deal; sanctions on Iran to be lifted and Iran itself to come back into full compliance. The backdrop of the fraught Iranian presidential elections – a second TV debate is due on Tuesday – is making the task of reaching agreement more difficult.
Speaking to the IAEA board on Monday, Grossi said: “The lack of progress in clarifying the agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the IAEA to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Grossi is especially exasperated since he believed he had reached a new understanding with Iran about his inquiries after a visit to Iran was supposed to inject a new urgency into a process that has been continuing since 2018.
It has always been open to the E3 – France, Germany and the UK – to put the lack of cooperation into the dispute mechanism or to move a motion at the board condemning Iran.
Grossi told the board: “After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the agency has conducted complementary accesses. In the absence of such an explanation from Iran, I am deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at the three undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known by the agency. Nor has Iran answered the questions with regard to the other undeclared location, or clarified the current location of natural uranium in the form of a metal disc.”
He continued: “Since my last report, Iran has provided no new information in relation to one location; has not answered any of the agency’s questions nor provided any information in relation to two other locations; and provided a written statement on a fourth location without any substantiating documentation. The presence of multiple uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at three locations in Iran not declared to the agency, as well as the presence of isotopically altered particles at one of these locations, is a clear indication that nuclear material and/or equipment contaminated by nuclear material has been present at these locations.”
In a tweet just before the board meeting, the Russian ambassador to the IAEA, Mikhail Ulyanov, said despite the difficult reports everyone understood the need not to get in the way of the nuclear deal talks.
Separately Grossi has reported on Iran’s moves away from the constraints imposed by the 2015 deal. He reports Iran managed to produce 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds) of highly enriched uranium in the six weeks since saboteurs struck the country’s primary enrichment facility in Natanz. The 11 April attack prompted Iran to begin enriching uranium to levels of 60% purity, just below the threshold normally used in bombs.
Iranian brinkmanship is said by western diplomats to be teetering on the edge of what is tolerable in the negotiations, or likely to make it impossible to sell the deal to domestic public opinion.
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