March 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Fails to Censure Iran’s Nuclear Program at IAEA Meeting

March 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Fails to Censure Iran’s Nuclear Program at IAEA Meeting

Latest Developments

Washington failed to introduce a resolution admonishing Iran’s nonproliferation violations at a meeting of the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations that began on March 4. The five-day quarterly gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors in Vienna also failed to stipulate a deadline for compliance. Tehran is in violation of numerous Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards obligations and continues to augment its atomic activities at an alarming pace.

In a statement issued on March 7, however, Washington threatened to request a new comprehensive report from the IAEA on the peacefulness of Iran’s nuclear program, which would enable the agency to detail outstanding concerns regarding the program’s possible military nature. Washington’s threat has the potential to galvanize multilateral pressure against the regime the same way as a November 2011 IAEA report on Iran’s military nuclear program did.

Expert Analysis

Iran is learning an important lesson — it can walk up to the nuclear threshold and suffer zero consequences, not even a censure resolution. Promises of future action do nothing to push back on Iran’s nuclear threat here and now. Tehran will continue to respond accordingly, inching its way toward breakout.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Washington should have included the IAEA reporting threat in a legally binding resolution at the board meeting as well as censured Iran for its violations. If America and its allies fail to follow through, Iran may decide that this year presents an ideal opportunity to break out of its nonproliferation commitments and seek nuclear weapons.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

Overdue IAEA Reporting

A new IAEA report is long overdue, especially in light of significant new information about Tehran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program from an Iranian archive seized by Israel in 2018. The discovery and Iran’s continued intransigence spurred the IAEA’s ongoing investigation, now in its fifth year, into related undeclared Iranian nuclear sites and activities. Tehran likely recalls that a 2011 IAEA report, which detailed what the IAEA knew at the time about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and related activities, resulted in increased international pressure. The West could wield a new report now to revive multilateral pressure against Iran at the IAEA.

However, such a report does nothing to hold Iran accountable today as it expands its stockpile of enriched uranium, adds hundreds of new advanced centrifuges, and limits IAEA access to its nuclear facilities. Washington and its European allies must prepare to counter Iran with a forceful pressure campaign, including the passage of a resolution that threatens to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for the snapback of sanctions.

What to Know About Iran’s Nuclear Program: Breakout Time,” FDD Visual

Analysis of the IAEA’s Iran NPT Safeguards Report – February 2024,” by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker

Iran Failed to Declare New Nuclear Facility, IAEA Reports,” FDD Flash Brief


International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation