In a move that could potentially undermine talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the US on Thursday threatened to confront Iran next month at the IAEA if the country does not cooperate more with the watchdog.
Tehran is embroiled in a number of standoffs with the IAEA, whose 35-nation Board of Governors is meeting this week.
How IAEA will take its course of action?
In 2015, then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from an agreement that lifted sanctions imposed on Iran, in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Afterward, he reimposed debilitating sanctions; this led to Tehran expanding its nuclear activities and reducing cooperation with the IAEA.
As part of its investigation, the IAEA is seeking answers about the origin of uranium particles found at seemingly old but undeclared sites. The organisation also alleges that Iran is subjecting its inspectors to “excessively invasive physical searches.”
“If Iran’s non-cooperation is not immediately remedied … the Board will have no choice but to reconvene in extraordinary session before the end of this year in order to address the crisis,” a US statement to the Board of Governors said.
It said it was referring “especially” to re-installing IAEA cameras at the Karaj workshop, which makes parts for advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium.
Iranian authorities are refusing to allow the IAEA to re-install surveillance cameras at a workshop at the TESA Karaj complex.
The country believes its arch-enemy Israel was responsible for an apparent sabotage attack targeted at that workshop in June.
There were four cameras installed there by the IAEA, but one of them was apparently destroyed and its footage lost. Soon after the incident, Iran removed all the cameras. The Israeli government has not responded to the incident.
Rafael Grossi, the IAEA chief, said Wednesday that he did not know if the workshop was operating again, and that time was running out for an agreement.
The purpose of an extraordinary meeting of the Board would probably be to pass a resolution against Iran, escalating diplomatic tensions with Tehran.
That may jeopardise the indirect talks between Iran and the United States about renewing the 2015 deal, which is set to resume on Monday.
Reuters with additional input by GVS