Iran Nuclear Program In Focus As US & Allies Search For Options

As the dust still settles from the US-Israeli election, a new round of controversy over Iran’s nuclear program could begin next week.

The November 24-26 board meeting of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is likely to pass a new resolution censuring Tehran for restricting access to the agency’s inspectors. On Friday, reports emerged that the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom circulated a draft resolution to the 35 member states saying it was “imperative and urgent” for Iran to address the agency’s concerns.

The IAEA’s concerns are twofold. First, as the resolution points out, Tehran has not satisfied the IAEA about the traces of uranium found before 2003. in places used for nuclear works. There is little hope for a breakthrough in scheduled meetings with Iranian officials later this month.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Thursday accused Iran of “dragging”. Tehran has demanded that the IAEA drop questions on trace uranium to help revive the currently frozen talks in 2015. The Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which the US left in 2018.

The agency’s second main area of ​​concern is Iran’s nuclear program from 2021 onwards. February. reduced overall IAEA involvement in the nuclear program, which now largely conforms to the NPT rather than the enhanced JCPOA.

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This reduced access, combined with the problem of trace uranium, has warned the general director of the agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi he may no longer be able to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. This is noted in a report distributed by the IAEA to member states on Thursday “The current situation will last as long as possible the greater such uncertainty”.

The agency monitors Iran’s uranium stockpile, which it says currently stands at 3,674 kg, well above the 267 kg JCPOA limit, including 62 kg enriched to 60 percent, nearly 90 percent “weapons grade.” But Iran’s removal of surveillance equipment at factories that make centrifuges, uranium enrichment machines, has hampered the agency’s decision on the overall program. While access to such facilities is not required under Iran’s NPT obligations, knowing how many and what types of centrifuges Iran has prepared is critical to assessing how quickly the program can expand, and wait.

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Although Price said on Thursday that the US was consulting with its “European partners”, the options for effective action appeared limited. The IAEA’s board passed a resolution in June censuring Iran for trace uranium, and it is far from clear what the new resolution might achieve. The draft text, as reported by Reuters on Friday, said Iran should “act to meet its legal obligations and … promptly … provide all information, documents and answers” requested by the IAEA, as well as “grant access to sites and materials. …[and the] take samples…

Unlike in 2006, when The IAEA referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council because of their nuclear programs, Russia and China will no longer support this move. Both have a UNSC veto and believe the US is primarily responsible for the collapse of the JCPOA.

Although decisions on whether to restore the JCPOA rest with President Joe Biden, critics of the JCPOA in the US may feel emboldened distance yourself from the Democrats November 8 in the upcoming congressional elections, even if control of both the House and Senate remains uncertain.

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“Operating with Judgment”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s imminent return to office in Israel after November 1st. the recent Knesset elections is another complication. Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid has enjoyed a good relationship with the Biden administration, although he has criticized efforts to revive the JCPOA, and Netanyahu has previously identified with President Donald Trump. Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke about the work done on Wednesday the outgoing administration is preparing for military strikes on Iran, saying Netanyahu will now “act with conviction.”

While the crisis in Ukraine, a wave of domestic protests in Iran and Tehran’s growing ties to Moscow have brought the US closer to the three European JCPOA signatories – France, Germany and the UK – Biden’s options appear limited.

In light of Iran’s “dangerous proliferation of weapons systems to Russia,” Price said Thursday that the U.S. would “continue to vigorously enforce all U.S. sanctions on the Russian-Iranian arms trade.” He acknowledged that while Washington was “seeking all appropriate means” to deal with Iran, it already had “very tough sanctions, to say the least…for all their nefarious activities.”

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