UN nuclear watchdog says ‘no progress’ has been made in monitoring Iranian nuclear program: report
A confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report assessed that international efforts to monitor Iran’s nuclear program have made “no progress” despite promises from Tehran.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi requested that Iran “work with the agency in earnest and in a sustained way towards the fulfillment of the commitments,” the agency said in the unreleased report, according to AFP.
The report comes as Iran has still not followed through on a March promise to reactivate surveillance devices it deactivated last year, while a separate unreleased IAEA report showed the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium was more than 18 times the limit set during the nuclear deal (JCPOA) reached between Tehran and world powers in 2015.
The IAEA has faced issues with “verification and monitoring” of the Iranian program since “Iran’s decision to stop implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA,” the agency said in one of the reports, according to CBS News, who obtained a copy of the report. The IAEA said the situation has also been “exacerbated by Iran’s subsequent decision to remove all of the Agency’s JCPOA-related surveillance and monitoring equipment.”
“The IAEA Director Generals’ reports published on Iran demonstrate once again that Iran is not complying with the requirements of the International community,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told CBS News. “The most dangerous regime in the world is close to acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities and this grave threat should have been addressed by the Security Council long time ago…We must act before it’s too late.”
The quarterly IAEA report, which is set to be released on Sept. 11, notes that Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium reached 3,795.5 kilogrammes in August, which was 949 kilogrammes lower than in May, though that number is still well-above the limit set in 2015. According to that agreement, Iran was limited to 202.8 kilogramme of enriched uranium.
The country’s stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20% and 60% also increased over the last report, with the country currently holding 121.6 kilos enriched up to 60%, up from 114.1 in May. Iran had 535.8 kilos of uranium enriched up to 20%, which was up from 470.9 in May.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies who focuses on Iranian security and political issues, told Fox News Digital the reported decrease in overall enriched uranium might not be a sign of progress.
“While deal defenders and proponents of diplomacy at all costs are sure to point out the slowing enrichment pace and decline in overall stockpile, those numbers don’t fundamentally change the threat. Instead, the most threatening and quickly scalable elements, such as Iran’s production of 60% highly enriched uranium stockpile, actually grew.”
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have seemingly cooled more recently in part because of an announced deal that saw the U.S. return $6 billion in Iranian funds that were frozen in South Korea in exchange for the release of five American prisoners. Despite the easing of tensions, a potential return to the 2015 deal remains unlikely.
In the meantime, Iran is likely angling for better treatment from Washington, Taleblu argued.
“This is not inconsistent with past Iranian behavior, which has often feigned a softening every quarter to avoid censure at the IAEA board of governors. And flush with indirect relief from hostage diplomacy, Tehran may be trying to incentivize team Biden to offer more relief,” he said. “Tehran has a political incentive to make a few arrows point downward without changing the overall course of its nuclear trajectory.”