IAEA BoG resolution: a recipe for disaster

June 6, 2022 - 21:49

TEHRAN – After a week of bombastic rhetoric, the International Atomic Energy’s 35-nation Board of Governors (BoG) convened a meeting amid reports of a possible censure against Iran, a move that could further complicate the situation around the already stalled talks in Vienna.

The IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting kicked off on Monday with Iran being one of the issues on agenda. The United States and its European allies -France, Germany, and the UK – made it clear that they would push for a resolution against Iran. Western media reported that these countries have tabled the resolution at a time when talks in Vienna over reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), continue to face growing uncertainty. 

The West pushing for censure for the first time in two years raised concerns in Iran about opponents of the JCPOA throwing a wrench into the gears of the Vienna talks, especially after a war of words between Iran and the IAEA director-general, Rafael Grossi, who incensed Tehran by visiting Israel right before the Board of Governors meeting.
The trip to Israel was especially worrisome because it also came after the IAEA released a report castigating Iran for allegedly not providing credible answers to the IAEA questions that were raised by Israel in the first place. 

Of note, the UN nuclear watchdog has raised questions about a number of Iranian sites at which uranium materials were allegedly found. The sites and their coordinates were presented to the IAEA by Israel. 

“Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency's findings at those locations,” the report said according to Reuters. It added, “The Agency remains ready to engage without delay with Iran to resolve all of these matters.”

Iran strongly rejected the report, describing it as not reflecting the level of cooperation between Tehran and the IAEA. 
Iran’s objection notwithstanding, the West proceeded with its plan to use the report as a basis for censuring Iran at the Board of Governors meeting. But the problem with this plan is that it could further complicate the already precarious situation of the Vienna talks. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has warned any resolution at the BoG meeting would have consequences for which some will be responsible. After a phone conversation with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, the Iranian foreign minister also appeared to establish a link between the Vienna talks and what is going on in the IAEA. “Those who push for anti-Iran resolution at IAEA will be responsible for all the consequences,” he said on Twitter, adding, “We welcome a good, strong & lasting agreement. It's within reach if US/E3 are realistic.”

But the prospect of such an agreement would well be jeopardized by the IAEA resolution. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran will respond in kind to any move by the IAEA. 
Iran has so far exercised restraint and seems to be waiting for the outcome of the meeting of the board. But Iran could take new retaliatory measures should the board adopts a resolution. 

Iranian lawmaker Fereydoun Abbasi, who served as the director of the Atomic Organization of Iran, said on Monday that Iran should ratchet up its enrichment in case the board adopted a resolution. 

He called on the Iranian government to respond in kind, underlining that the Ebrahim Raisi administration should implement a nuclear law passed by Parliament that obligates the government to undertake certain nuclear measures in case the other side failed to implement its commitments under the JCPOA.

The Raisi administration should stand up to the West’s excessive demands, he said, noting that “we should presently increase enrichment to higher levels.”
Many believe that the West fell into the trap set by Israel by pushing for the resolution, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Iran and the P4+1 to proceed with the Vienna talks as Iran has said time and again it would not negotiate under pressure. 

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