The Europeans and the United States plan to increase pressure on Iran this week with a possible vote on a resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency, against the backdrop of a deadlock in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency kicked off on Monday in a frenetic mood: if it is adopted in the coming days, it will be the first monetary text since June 2020, a sign of Western impatience.
Because the Islamic Republic liberalizes itself every day a little more from its nuclear commitments, while restricting its cooperation with the United Nations body responsible for ensuring the peaceful nature of its programme.
The text drafted by the United States and the Group of Three (UK, France and Germany) urges Tehran to “fully cooperate” with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In a statement opening the meeting, UN Director-General Rafael Grossi lamented the absence of “technically credible” answers from Iran regarding traces of enriched uranium found at three undisclosed sites in the country.
This issue poisoned relations between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency for a long time.
“I hope that at the end of the council’s deliberations this week we will be committed to resolving the problem once and for all,” the official told reporters. “We have to continue working until we reach a clarification. I don’t see any other solution,” he added.
– “The negative impact” –
Iran once again criticized an “unconstructive” initiative, which is likely to have a “negative impact both on the general direction of our cooperation with the IAEA and on negotiations,” according to Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
“We will respond appropriately to what will happen,” he warned on state television.
Such a vote could “disrupt” the talks in Vienna, and China and Russia, which are still parties to the text along with the E3 group, were swamped.
The process began in April 2021 in Vienna, with the goal of bringing the United States led by Joe Biden back into the fold of the JCPOA (English acronym for 2015 agreement) supposed to prevent the Islamic Republic from building an atomic bomb — an intention it denies. .
Washington withdrew from it in 2018, headed by Donald Trump, who considered the text insufficient and re-imposed economic sanctions on Tehran, which led to the disintegration of the agreement.
– Under Ukraine –
Even if this leads to more tension in relations, “it is necessary to make a decisive decision to send a message, to indicate that blocking Iran will have consequences,” estimates Kelsey Davenport, an expert with the Arms Control Association, in an interview with AFP.
Clement Therm, associate researcher at the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasana), does not envision a break in the discussions at this point.
He believes that “in the context of the war in Ukraine, the Europeans are not ready to create a new crisis with Iran.” “The document is worded in such a way as to leave the door open.”
Talks are currently bogged down by a major obstacle: Joe Biden’s refusal to bow to a key demand from Tehran, which is the removal of Iran’s ideological army from the US blacklist of “terrorist organizations.”
Davenport insists that if Mr Biden fears “a huge political cost, it is nothing compared to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran”.
And calling on the US administration to “work hard to find creative solutions” in order to reach a compromise.
According to the latest estimates of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Islamic Republic now possesses 43.1 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium.
“It’s only a matter of time” before enough builds up to make a bomb, Mr Grossi said, referring to “a few weeks at most.”
We are well below the “breakout time” of about a year stipulated in the 2015 agreement.
Knowing that later armaments, which “will take another one to two years”, may be “difficult to detect”, notes Ms. Davenport, she underscores the “urgent need to re-impose the limits” and restore the inspection regime. The International Atomic Energy Agency is paid.