Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog Kazem Gharibabadi (R) leaves after the meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission, in Vienna, May 7, 2021. (REUTERS)

September 16, 2021

On Wednesday, the US Chargé d’Affaires of the US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna Louis L. Bono told the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) that the harassment of IAEA inspectors by Iranian security officials “is absolutely unacceptable.” He warned that “a repeat of such conduct would be of serious concern” and that “should additional incidents occur, the United States stands ready to work with other Board members to take appropriate action.”

Bono’s comments reflected a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday which revealed physical harassment of female IAEA inspectors at nuclear sites in Iran, including sensitive touching and ordering the removal of clothing. In response, Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi said on Twitter that security measures “at the nuclear facilities in Iran are, reasonably, tightened. The IAEA inspectors have gradually come up with the new rules and regulations.” Such incidents come at a particularly delicate moment as talks between world powers and Iran over reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remain stalled.

At the Board of Governors meeting, Washington also warned that Iran must provide cooperation with the unresolved safeguards probe into “the origins and current location of nuclear material and/or equipment that sampling indicates was present at three undeclared locations, as well as information and activities associated with the natural uranium metal disc connected to the fourth undeclared location.” Bono said “the Board of Governors will be watching closely in the days and weeks ahead as to whether Iran is providing the required cooperation. The United States will stand ready, with other Board members, to take appropriate action if the Director General reports that Iran’s cooperation remains insufficient.”

Separately, the France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (E3) delivered their own statement at the Board of Governors meeting. They reaffirmed that they “remain fully supportive and are committed to the negotiation process undertaken by all JCPOA participants and the United States in Vienna, focused on facilitating a return of the United States to the deal.” But expressed that they are “deeply concerned by Iran’s continued violations of its nuclear-related commitments, and recent escalations.” The E3 noted that Tehran has “continued to conduct unauthorized activities with uranium metal and has, for the first time, produced uranium metal enriched to 20%. Iran has no plausible civilian reason for such activity, which provides weapons-applicable knowledge gain.”

They also highlighted the Islamic Republic “doubling its production rate of High Enriched Uranium since the Board last convened” and proclaimed the “production of HEU is unprecedented in a non-nuclear weapons state.” In the end, the European powers said “collectively, these steps present a pressing nuclear proliferation risk, have irreversible consequences for Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and undermine the non-proliferation benefits of the JCPOA.”

Iran International

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.