The IAEA Board of Governors began on Monday in Vienna with a draft Western resolution urging Iran amid suspended talks to renew the 2015 nuclear agreement.
This text, drafted by the United States and the E3 (UK, France and Germany), calls on Tehran to “cooperate fully” with the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose Director-General Rafael Grossi opened the meeting at 10:30 (08:30). GMT).
If adopted by the 35 Council member states by Friday, it will be the first critical resolution since June 2020, a sign of the West’s growing impatience.
Because the Islamic Republic is getting a little more relieved of its nuclear obligations every day, while limiting cooperation with the UN body responsible for ensuring the peaceful nature of its program.
In a recent IAEA report, it condemned the absence of “satisfactory” and “technically credible” Iranian responses to traces of enriched uranium found in three undeclared places in the country.
Send a message”
Although these activities date back to before 2003, “there is no justification for Iran’s systematic failure to cooperate seriously in the agency’s investigation,” Kelsey Davenport, an arms control association expert, told AFP.
“A critical solution is needed to send a message that signals that this obstacle will have consequences,” he continues.
Iran, for its part, promised an “immediate” response and warned of a “non-constructive” initiative at a time when talks on the resurrection of the JCPOA (2015 abbreviation for the 2015 agreement) had come to a halt.
“Those who push for an anti-Iranian resolution will have to bear the consequences,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Twitter on Sunday.
Negotiations began in Vienna in April 2021 with a view to bringing the United States Joe Biden back to the pact, which is to prevent the Islamic Republic from producing an atomic bomb – an intention it denies.
Washington resigned in 2018 under the chairmanship of Donald Trump, who considered the text insufficient and renewed economic sanctions against Tehran leading to the breakdown of the agreement.
Such a vote in the IAEA Council could “slow down the negotiation process”, China and Russia, two states that remain parties to the text alongside the E3, have also responded.
In his twet, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov called for a “doubling of diplomatic efforts” instead of calling for a resolution in Iran.
In the shadow of Ukraine
Although the climate is tense, Clément Therme, a researcher at the International Institute of Iranian Studies (Rasanah), does not envisage a break in the discussions at this stage.
“In the context of the war in Ukraine, Europeans are not ready to start a new crisis with Iran,” he said. “The document is worded to keep the door open.”
The talks are currently facing a major hurdle: Joe Biden’s refusal to give in to Tehran’s key demand, the removal of Iran’s ideological army from the US blacklist of “terrorist organizations.”
The White House’s political wing is indeed afraid of criticism by Republicans ahead of the November parliamentary elections.
If Mr Biden fears “high political costs, this is nothing compared to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran,” says Kelsey Davenport.
And to call on the US administration to “work hard to find creative solutions” in order to reach a compromise.
According to the latest IAEA estimates, the Islamic Republic currently has 43.1 kg of 60% enriched uranium.
“An amount that, if enriched to 90%, is enough to make a bomb within 10 days,” warns this proliferation specialist in the worst case.
We are well below the “break time”, which is about a year set out in the 2015 agreement.
Recognizing that the subsequent armament phases, which will “last another one to two years”, could be “difficult to detect”, Ms Davenport notes, stressing the “urgent need to reintroduce the limits” and restore the IAEA large-scale inspection regime.