March 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ambiguity Surrounds Iran’s Purported Nuclear Concessions

March 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ambiguity Surrounds Iran’s Purported Nuclear Concessions

Latest Developments

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today that Iran’s ostensible nuclear concessions over the weekend are still subject to negotiations. Rafael Grossi’s statement appeared to reverse his earlier assertion on Saturday, after meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran, that Iran had agreed to address some international concerns over its nuclear activities. Meanwhile, an Iranian government news site denied today that Iran had made concessions during Grossi’s visit. As a likely result of the initial optimism that greeted Grossi’s meetings, the value of Iran’s rial significantly rebounded on Sunday after dropping precipitously against the dollar in recent weeks.

Expert Analysis

“Grossi returned from Tehran with nothing more than handshakes and pleasantries. Iran did not roll back its capability to produce near weapons-grade uranium at an underground enrichment facility nor did it give any concrete details on how or when it will resume IAEA monitoring or cooperate with a four-year probe of undeclared nuclear material. You can put lipstick on an illicit nuclear threat, but it’s still an illicit nuclear threat.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Iran’s intention is clear: It seeks to stave off IAEA censure by pretending to cooperate with the agency. At the same time, it hopes to resuscitate the value of the rial, which has collapsed due in part to its increasing nuclear intransigence. The Biden administration should call Iran’s bluff and urge the IAEA to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council to reimpose sanctions.” Tzvi Kahn, Research Fellow and Senior Editor

Conflicting Statements

On Saturday, Grossi said Tehran had decided to reinstall cameras at key nuclear facilities and allow a 50 percent increase in inspections at the Fordow enrichment plant. “We have put a tourniquet on the bleeding,” Grossi declared. However, a joint statement by the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran articulated no such commitments. The joint statement did say Tehran “expressed its readiness to continue its cooperation” on “outstanding safeguards issues,” an apparent reference to Iran’s failure to disclose key nuclear activities at undeclared locations. However, the statement identified no specific steps Tehran would take to cooperate. Grossi also failed to receive an explanation from Iran for the IAEA’s recent discovery of particles of uranium enriched to 84 percent purity — just short of atomic weapons-grade — at the Fordow enrichment facility.

IAEA Censure

These developments come as the IAEA Board of Governors meets this week, when they can decide whether to censure Iran for its lack of cooperation with the agency. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Thursday that Washington would wait for the results of Grossi’s visit before deciding how to proceed. Iran’s record of nuclear mendacity and its apparent effort to feign cooperation with the agency indicate that the United States has ample grounds for Iran’s censure at the IAEA, which could lead to a referral to the United Nations Security Council for countermeasures.

Related Analysis

Analysis of IAEA Iran Verification and Monitoring Report – February 2023,” by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Spencer Faragasso, and Andrea Stricker

Iran Enriched Uranium to Near Atomic-Weapons Grade, IAEA Confirms,” FDD Flash Brief


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