Europe must stop undermining the International Atomic Energy Agency – POLITICO

David Albright is President of the Institute for Science and International Securityand author of “Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons.”

Iran is currently doing everything it can to conceal undeclared nuclear materials and activities from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Linking the recent relaunch of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the 2015 agreement imposing restrictions on the country’s nuclear program – to the avoidance of cooperation with agency inspectors, Iran has a long experience in researching nuclear weapons and persistent non-cooperation with the IAEA.

In view of this, it is vital that the international community insist on rigorous inspections as a prerequisite for any new nuclear agreement. And Western negotiators must also work to demand that Iran finally address breaches of its comprehensive safeguards agreement under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, embarking on a path to determine whether the country’s current nuclear program is peaceful.

Unfortunately, the European Union negotiators are doing the exact opposite. They offer Iran rewards if they cooperate with the inspectors, but no serious consequences if they don’t. Essentially, the EU itself is creating a way for Iran to continue blocking the IAEA – and that must stop now.

Currently, all of these concessions are being made in the name of a revived nuclear deal, a deal weaker than the original, which is temporary and will likely fail sooner than expected – especially if a Republican is elected President of the United States in a few years. . .

Regardless of domestic US policy, however, if no action is taken, the world will inevitably return to a state of crisis as the nuclear deal timeouts begin to end in 2023 and accelerate in 2025, which will lead Iran to accelerate its advanced centrifugation program. again, without any credible civil justification.

To make matters worse, a revived JCPOA alone cannot provide an answer as to whether Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful or whether the country is just waiting for the day when it can build nuclear weapons. In fact, the last two years have provided more evidence to support the latter, suggesting that the program is not peaceful and that Iran is more likely to have solidified a program, so it can be ready to build once the leadership gives the order.

The undeclared nuclear materials and activities discovered by the IAEA are just the tip of the iceberg of Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities. And those capabilities collectively represent decades of accumulated equipment, knowledge and experience, including the preservation of the vast activities and achievements of Plan Amad – an early 2000s emergency program that aimed to build five nuclear weapons.

A better strategy is to set aside reviving the JCPOA for now and focus instead on fully supporting IAEA efforts to convince Iran to reveal its undeclared nuclear materials, equipment and activities, and to provide verified assurances that its program is peaceful.

In its efforts to settle this issue, the IAEA Board of Governors has already warned Iran twice to cooperate with the agency. At the last board meeting in June, the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Tehran to cooperate with the inspectors, and – to Iran’s surprise – it garnered the support of more than 85% of members. .

Iran’s flag is seen in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters building ahead of a press conference by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on the agency’s surveillance of the Iran’s 2021 nuclear power program in Vienna, Austria | Michael Gruber/Getty Images

But Iran has always refused to comply, preferring to drag out the process, while denying any wrongdoing. And now, unsurprisingly, he is trying to exploit Western desperation for a deal to extract last-minute concessions.

Iran should not be accommodated.

If the country succeeds, there will be lasting damage to the credibility of the IAEA and the international non-proliferation regime, as well as increased instability in the Middle East and increased risks of nuclear proliferation, miscalculations and conflicts. Such damage would far outweigh the gains from a revived deal.

Instead, Iran should understand that unless it changes course, the Board of Governors will refer the matter to the UN Security Council, sending a strong signal that its violations are unacceptable.

Nor should France and Britain rely on the US accepting additional concessions to revive the JCPOA. On the contrary, they should stand ready to complete the process of reinstating sanctions, culminating in a Security Council resolution that reimposes all the restrictions that were lifted as a result of the JCPOA. While resolutions resulting from a referral to the IAEA board can be vetoed, the stimulus resolution cannot, which would further isolate Iran, increase sanctions pressure and contribute to build an international coalition against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

However, Iran can prevent all these actions by cooperating and satisfying the IAEA. And at this point, a revived nuclear deal may actually have some value.

But if Europe and the United States recklessly decide to go ahead with a renewed deal anyway, they should at least insist on delaying its implementation until Iran is in full cooperation. with the agency and in full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In their desperate attempt to revive the JCPOA, EU negotiators, led by High Representative Josep Borrell, would do well to consider whether continuing to risk undermining the IAEA really serves the bloc’s geopolitical interests.

Iran is not the only nuclear threat facing the world. From North Korea’s weapons proliferation and testing to Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the world is facing an unprecedented level of nuclear irresponsibility.

More than ever, we need a strong and autonomous IAEA.


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