June 14, 2021 | The Hill

In the Iran nuclear crisis, the IAEA stands alone


“And how many divisions does the Pope have?”  former Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin is alleged to have quipped in response to a political comment by the Vatican. Though outdated, the retort remains instructive. In international relations, it always helps to have a credible enforcement mechanism. Such a mechanism is missing in action in the escalating drama between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran.

At a recent press conference, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi declared that the agency will investigate Iran’s nuclear breaches even if it lacks political cover from member states. Though principled, the comments reflect a crisis in the making. An international organization with a monitoring and verification mandate should not have to go it alone against an aspiring nuclear rogue.

Fortunately, President Joe Biden can reverse course, but by taking a page from Iran’s playbook: threaten progress on one track — the current negotiations to re-establish the nuclear deal — to bolster another: IAEA investigations. The Biden administration should condition any nuclear talks on Iran first thoroughly clearing its case with the IAEA.

Andrea Stricker is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow. Follow Andrea on Twitter @StrickerNonproFDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues.


International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation