IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi came to Iran late on Saturday in order to begin his consultations with the new Iranian administration, but did he gain what he was seeking?
According to Iranpress news website, Iran had vetoed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s request to have “full” access to the footages and memory cards of the nuclear sites. In December 2020, the Iranian parliament passed the generalities of a bill titled “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions.”
The bill requires the government to raise uranium enrichment levels to 20% and install advanced centrifuges.
According to the 9-article bill, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) will be required to produce and store at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with 20 percent purity at the Fordow nuclear facility every year, and to fulfil the country’s peaceful industrial demands with uranium enriched above 20%.
The bill entails uranium enrichment activities with at least 1,000 IR-2M centrifuge machines at the Natanz nuclear plant within three months after the ratification of the law, and compels the AEOI to launch uranium enrichment as well as research and development activities with at least 164 IR-6 centrifuges and increase the number of centrifuge machines to 1,000 within a year after the ratification of the bill.
The bill also requires the government to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) three months after the ratification of it if the parties to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), failed to uphold their obligations under the agreement.
During his trip, Grossi met with Mohammad Eslami, Iran’s nuclear chief. The two had a “constructive” discussion, according to Eslami.
“Mr. Rafael Grossi came to Tehran at the invitation of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and we had good and constructive talks with him,” Mohammad Eslami told reporters in a joint press conference with Grossi on Sunday.
Eslami also said he will hold talks with Grossi on the sidelines of the IAEA’s Board Governors meeting which will start in Vienna from Monday.
“We decided to participate in the next meeting and continue our talks on the sidelines of the meeting,” Iran’s nuclear chief stated.
What is now clear is that the Board of Governors must be cautious over what they issue. The IAEA, before Grossi’s leadership, mostly focused on the technical aspects of Iran’s nuclear file. Since Grossi took office, the UN nuclear watchdog has been trying to politicize the case, which has nothing to do with the IAEA obligations.
The nuclear file has two separate aspects. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the negotiations to revive the internationally agreed deal; and the technical aspects with respect to Non-Proliferation Treaty. The IAEA must know its limits and stick to the very mission it was founded for.
As for the JCPOA revival negotiations, Iran had previously stated that it has no problem returning to the negotiations, as long as the other side shows “determination and seriousness” and negotiate with goodwill.
According to the joint statement issued by the AEOI and the IAEA, “the parties recalled and reaffirmed the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust and its continuation and emphasized the necessity of addressing the relevant issues in a constructive atmosphere and exclusively in a technical manner.
In the framework of the existing cooperation, the two sides decided to maintain their mutual interactions and meetings at relevant levels. To this end, the Vice-President and the Head of AEOI will meet the IAEA Director General at the sidelines of the upcoming General Conference, and the IAEA Director General will also visit Tehran in the near future to hold high level consultations with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Iran and the IAEA in different fields and discussing current issues of mutual interest.
IAEA’s inspectors are permitted to service the identified equipment and replace their storage media which will be kept under the joint IAEA and AEOI seals in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The way and the timing are agreed by the two sides.”
The statement clearly indicates that Iran has not set a specific time for the IAEA’s request to replace the storage memory cards. Iran insists on keeping the IAEA out of the political aspects of the nuclear file. It is time for Board of Governors to keep things technical.