November 27, 2023 | Flash Brief

West Fails to Censure Iran at Key Nuclear Meeting Despite Tehran’s Ejection of Inspectors

November 27, 2023 | Flash Brief

West Fails to Censure Iran at Key Nuclear Meeting Despite Tehran’s Ejection of Inspectors

Latest Developments

Washington and its European allies failed to censure Iran at a critical meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, in Vienna from November 20 to 24. Iran has steadily augmented its nuclear activities since the election of President Joe Biden and is on the threshold of nuclear weapons. After the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors meeting in September, Iran ejected one-third of agency inspectors with expertise in uranium enrichment and, since 2021, has steadily eroded IAEA monitoring. The West has neither formally censured Tehran’s advances in over a year nor set a deadline for the regime to come into compliance with a five-year IAEA investigation into Iran’s violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Expert Analysis

“The Biden administration’s appeasement approach to Iran has failed. Tehran funds and supports proxies attacking Israel and is on the threshold of nuclear weapons. President Biden should call for a special IAEA board meeting to censure Iran and support the IAEA’s director general. Washington must fully implement U.S. sanctions and respond to Tehran’s proxies attacking U.S. troops by targeting Iranian personnel responsible for the attacks.” Anthony Ruggiero, Senior Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program and Senior Fellow

“As Iran advances its nuclear activities, the West is deterred from pushing back. How many inspectors must Iran eject and how many nuclear weapons’ worth of uranium will Tehran amass before the West stands up to the regime? The current approach ensures Iran can stroll to nuclear weapons at a time of its choosing.” Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program 

Recent Nuclear Advances

In two quarterly reports issued in November by the IAEA, the agency indicated Tehran refused to reinstate some eight inspectors it disbarred from Iran in September. Iran also added to its breakout capability: It now possesses enough enriched uranium to produce weapons-grade uranium (WGU) for one nuclear weapon in as little as seven days and up to 12 nuclear weapons in five months. It could produce enough WGU for the first six weapons within the first month of a breakout.

In addition, Iran refused to restore IAEA cameras and data collection devices at key nuclear-related sites or provide early notification to the IAEA if it decides to build new nuclear facilities. In violation of the NPT, Tehran continues to stonewall the five-year IAEA investigation on nuclear weapons-related activities and undeclared trace nuclear material the IAEA found at two sites. Iran’s non-compliance prevents the agency from declaring that Tehran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

Iran’s Nuclear Program Expands Despite U.S. Sanctions Relief,” by Andrea Stricker and Anthony Ruggiero

Iran May Exploit Israel’s War to Sprint to Nuclear Weapons,” by Andrea Stricker

There is still time for Biden to deter Iran and support Israel,” by Anthony Ruggiero


International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation