Iran has threatened to withdraw from a deal reached with UN weapons inspectors last weekend if Western countries go ahead with plans to censure it for not fully cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Western leaders plan to file a motion at the IAEA next week to condemn Iran for withdrawing from the blanket agreement with the UN body that grants inspectors access to its nuclear sites.
IAEA director general Rafael Grossi responded to the Iranian withdrawal by closing a three-month deal in Tehran last Sunday that he said left him satisfied that his inspectors could still continue to do their job, albeit less effectively than before.
But the United States and some European countries appear determined to leave an indicator to the IAEA that Iran is behaving unacceptably by reducing its cooperation with inspectors and breaking its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on issues such as reserves enrichment of uranium.
In a document sent to other IAEA member states ahead of next week’s quarterly meeting of the board of governors in Vienna, the United States said it wanted a resolution to “express the board’s growing concern regarding the cooperation of Iran with the IAEA. “
He said the board should ask Iran to reverse its breaches of the deal and cooperate with the IAEA to explain how uranium particles were found at undeclared ancient sites.
Iran said it viewed the move as “destructive” and would end its weekend deal with Grossi. Iranian diplomats said the US motion would create further complications in relation to the 2015 agreement, known as JCPoA.
Russia’s ambassador to the IAEA, Mikhail Ulyanov, called for calm, saying: “The common responsibility of the 35 governors is to ensure that the debates (even heated ones) do not negatively affect diplomatic efforts aimed at the full restoration of the JCPoA.”
It is likely that the United States will make the decision whether the motion is filed.
Some analysts have said the motion is poorly timed and likely to backfire, jeopardizing the chances of broader talks between Iran and the United States overseen by the European Union, the first such talks since Donald Trump retired from the JCPoA in 2018.
Ellie Geranmayeh, Iran’s analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the motion would not win Russia’s support and would only provoke a backlash in Tehran.
The United States has offered to hold talks with Iran on how both sides can return to mutual compliance with the agreement, under the EU presidency, and then, at a later stage, hold talks on how to improve the agreement and discuss other issues, including Iran’s ballistic missiles.
In a possible sign that some European diplomats are concerned that the board’s motion could put unnecessary obstacles in the way of the talks, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said there was “diplomatic space, a window of diplomatic opportunity “to bring the JCPoA. get back on track.
Iran wants as a precondition for the talks that the United States lift all economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, but the United States has said it can only discuss that issue when the talks are ongoing.
The relatively calm pace at which Biden’s team is considering the prospect of direct talks with Iran is frustrating Tehran, but the United States does not seem to see the need for a breakthrough in talks should a hardline party prevail in the June presidential elections in Iran.
The United States seems to think that Iran’s approach to the United States will not be determined by the new president, but by the strategic consensus that forms around the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.