The dossier of Iran’s nuclear program appears to be caught in political rather than technical and legal approaches. Talks between Iran and other parties over technical and legal issues seems to have been carried out sufficiently as Richard Moore, the chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, has said a deal on the revival of Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord “is absolutely on the table”. Moore, however, accused Iran of not wanting “to cut a deal”.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price has said, “There has been a deal on the table that is more or less finalized for several months now.”
Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has reiterated that Iran is determined to seal a “good, strong and lasting deal”.
Given the fact that Iran and other remaining parties to the 2015 accord, or the JCPOA, are ready to revive it, the main problem appears to be stemming from the White House, where the Biden administration does not show the necessary political willpower to return to the JCPOA.
In the meantime, Israel's efforts as well as political and non-technical approaches of the International Atomic Energy Agency have added to the complexity of the nuclear file. There seems to be some communications between Israel and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, which have fueled concerns about the agency’s departure from neutrality.
Grossi has told Spain’s El Pais newspaper in an interview published on Friday that the Iranian nuclear program “has grown enormously, far beyond what it was in 2015” and “is advancing at a gallop” while the IAEA has “very little visibility”.
He repeated that the IAEA said Iran’s explanations about alleged nuclear activities on three sites “have so far been insufficient” and “in some cases technically not credible”.
Iran has never kept its nuclear program secret and has publicly announced its measures beyond the JCPOA limits have been in retaliation for the US unilateral withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and the Europeans’ inaction in fulfilling their obligations under the JCPOA.
Iran’s months-long talks with the P4+1 to restore the JCPOA have so far failed to produce a favorable result for the Islamic Republic. The agency’s unprofessional and politically motivated measures have also negatively affected the diplomatic drive as they were in line with US-Israeli demands.
For instance, Grossi issued a biased report on Iran’s nuclear activities last month, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to issue a resolution which raised serious doubts about the agency’s impartiality.
Iran said the report was based on unfounded claims by the US and Israel. Grossi seems not to be afraid of revealing the influence of Iran’s enemies on him. Just days before the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, he visited Israel where he discussed Iran’s nuclear activities with the Israeli prime minister. Such discussions with a regime that has openly announced its acts of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program or assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists are a clear indication of breaching the IAEA’s expected impartiality.
Iran has no obligation to provide access to non-nuclear sites as protocols state. However, Tehran voluntarily allowed the IAEA to visit these sites in good faith and responded to IAEA questions.
During Grossi’s visit to Tehran in March, Iran and the IAEA agreed to resolve issues in a few months. Iran has time and again demanded that safeguard information of member states be kept confidential at the IAEA but Grossi’s remarks and the subsequent media hype have been contrary to such commitment.
It is not difficult to close Iran’s nuclear file technically and legally if the U.S. and the IAEA jettison their political approaches. The issue is that the U.S. has withdrawn from the JCPOA, while Iran, in response, has expanded its nuclear activities. The solution is clear. The U.S. needs to return to the JCPOA and lift sanctions on Iran so that Iran’s nuclear activities would be restored to the terms of the JCPOA.
Both the U.S. and the agency know that such reports and claims are merely excuses, as Grossi has admitted that Iran has been subject to the most extensive inspections by the IAEA.