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US blocking European efforts to introduce IAEA resolution against Iran

The Biden administration is the "difficulty" in moving ahead with the resolution at the quarterly meeting next week, say European officials.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi addresses the IAEA Board of Governors, March 9, 2020. Credit: D. Calma/IAEA.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi addresses the IAEA Board of Governors, March 9, 2020. Credit: D. Calma/IAEA.

The United States is frustrating European efforts to introduce a resolution against the Iranian regime at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reuters reported on Friday.

A senior European diplomat told the news agency that Washington is the “difficulty” in moving ahead with the resolution when the 35-nation Board of Governors’ quarterly meeting starts on June 3 in Vienna. The diplomat added that “in our conversations we continue to do everything to convince them.”

The last Iran-centered resolution, passed 18 months ago, called on Tehran to cooperate with an IAEA investigation involving three of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites.

France, Britain and Germany (the E3) are looking to present the new resolution to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting next week after not moving forward at the last IAEA meeting in March after the Biden administration expressed opposition to the move.

Officials often cite the upcoming November U.S. presidential election as the reason for the Biden administration being an obstacle to another resolution. However, the White House has argued that it doesn’t want to give Tehran an excuse to accelerate its nuclear program.

A senior European diplomat told Reuters, “It’s extremely difficult with Iran and the level of violations is unprecedented…There is no slowing down of its program and there is no real goodwill by Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.” The envoy added that “all our indicators are flashing red.”

Another diplomat said a resolution had been drafted, while others confirmed that the E3 had prepared a draft but had not shared it with other board members yet.

The matter is urgent; in late December, the agency said Iran had tripled its enrichment of uranium to 60%, which is just a short technical step away from 90%, or weapons-grade.

In February, Grossi accused Tehran of being less than forthright regarding its nuclear program, saying the Islamic Republic was “presenting a face which is not entirely transparent when it comes to its nuclear activities,” noting that “of course, this increases dangers.”

There have also been pointed Iranian threats of a push toward nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic will weaponize its nuclear program if Israel “threatens its existence.”

“If the Zionist regime [Israel] dares to damage Iran’s nuclear facilities, our level of deterrence will be different. We have no decision to produce a nuclear bomb, but if the existence of Iran is threatened, we will have to change our nuclear doctrine,” said Kamal Kharrazi, according to the ISNA news agency.

Prior to that statement, in the aftermath of Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone strike on Israel in April, and Israel’s response, Maj. Gen. Ahmad Haghtalab, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander responsible for safeguarding Iran’s nuclear sites, was quoted by Reuters as saying, “A review of our nuclear doctrine and politics as well as considerations previously communicated is entirely possible.”

“Our hands are on the trigger,” said Haghtalab, saying that the IRGC has identified Israel’s nuclear facilities.

Also in April, IAEA Director Rafael Grossi warned that Tehran’s nuclear activity had “raised eyebrows” and that the Islamic Republic was “weeks rather than months” away from having sufficient enriched uranium to manufacture a bomb.

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