May 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Director General May Attend Iran Nuclear Technology Conference

May 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Director General May Attend Iran Nuclear Technology Conference

Latest Developments

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammed Eslami, claimed on May 1 that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi will attend a nuclear technology conference in Esfahan during a planned May 6-7 visit to Iran. The IAEA has confirmed only that Grossi will visit Iran for talks with senior regime officials.

Iranian state media reported that the Esfahan gathering will mark Iran’s first “Conference on Nuclear Science and Technologies” and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AEOI’s founding. In 2018, the IAEA opened a new investigation into Iran’s undeclared nuclear weapons work, finding Tehran to be in breach of its legal nonproliferation safeguards agreements. Grossi, who has recently highlighted Iran’s proximity to nuclear weapons, is visiting Iran in part to seek cooperation on outstanding issues of concern. A “very serious conversation” is needed, Grossi stressed.

Expert Analysis

“Iran has violated its nonproliferation obligations, refused to answer the IAEA’s questions, and is on the threshold of nuclear weapons. The IAEA should not be celebrating Iran’s nuclear program at a conference in Iran.” — Anthony Ruggiero, FDD Adjunct Senior Fellow

“If IAEA Director General Grossi is seriously thinking of attending Iran’s nuclear technology conference, he should reconsider. Such a visit risks legitimizing Tehran’s development of nuclear technology outside IAEA safeguards and Iran’s provocative nuclear advances, while minimizing the regime’s non-compliance with its nonproliferation obligations.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

Iran’s Nuclear Non-Compliance

The IAEA first began investigating Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons work in 2002 but has received little cooperation from the regime. The IAEA’s latest inquiry stems from evidence it acquired in 2018 that Tehran had carried out undeclared nuclear weapons activities at four sites. The IAEA subsequently detected man-made uranium particles at three of the sites. While the agency determined — again without help from Iran — that Tehran had likely breached its nonproliferation safeguards agreements at two locations, it is still seeking Iran’s explanations for activities at the other two sites.

IAEA Conference Visit Risks Legitimizing Iran’s Illicit Nuclear Activities

Due to Iran’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA, for several years the agency has been unable to assert that Tehran’s nuclear program is devoted to peaceful uses. Grossi has also expressed concern about the regime’s production of 60 percent highly enriched uranium, for which Iran has no civilian justification. Grossi’s visit to Iran to engage senior officials fits with his longstanding efforts to attempt diplomacy ahead of quarterly meetings of the IAEA Board of Governors, whose next meeting begins on June 3.

The conference in Esfahan will also celebrate the AEOI, which was sanctioned by the United States in 2005 as an entity engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Last month, in an announcement of new Iran proliferation sanctions, the Treasury Department reiterated that AEOI is “the main Iranian organization responsible for research and development activities in the field of nuclear technology, including Iran’s centrifuge enrichment program.”

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

Iran Threatened to Reevaluate Nonproliferation Obligations if Israel Attacked Atomic Facilities,” FDD Flash Brief

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


Biodefense Energy International Organizations Iran Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation