May 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Chief’s Visit to Iran Fails to Sway Tehran on Nuclear Cooperation

May 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Chief’s Visit to Iran Fails to Sway Tehran on Nuclear Cooperation

Latest Developments

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) returned from a two-day visit to Iran on May 7 without reaching an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear activities. Rafael Grossi’s trip came amid Tehran’s stalled cooperation with the IAEA, nonproliferation safeguards violations, and failure to permit stronger IAEA monitoring of nuclear activities. During his visit, Grossi engaged with senior Iranian officials and attended a nuclear technology conference in Esfahan.

Grossi stated at a joint press conference in Esfahan with the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, that the agency and Tehran are still negotiating the implementation of a Joint Statement on cooperation agreed by the two in March 2023, stressing that the agency and Iran did not strike a new deal. Grossi reiterated these points upon returning to Vienna, telling reporters, “this is a difficult process,” and adding that while he is opposed to imposing deadlines, “I certainly expect to have some concrete results soon.” The UN watchdog chief’s visit came ahead of a June IAEA Board of Governors meeting during which member states may consider imposing new penalties against Iran.

Expert Analysis

“As expected, Iran used the Grossi visit to further Tehran’s propaganda that the IAEA investigation is politically motivated. Grossi can fix this mistake by issuing a tough quarterly report that prompts action from Washington and its European allies.” — Anthony Ruggiero, FDD Adjunct Senior Fellow

“The director general’s visit to Iran served to highlight Tehran’s ongoing failure to cooperate with the agency and its continued momentum toward eventually breaking out of its nonproliferation commitments. Only reconstituted Western pressure and penalties will stop the regime and compel better cooperation with the IAEA.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

Failed Joint Statement

A March 2023 IAEA-Iran Joint Statement set out three basic Iranian commitments to better cooperate with the agency, engage on resolving the IAEA’s outstanding nonproliferation safeguards probe, and allow the IAEA to enhance monitoring activities in Iran. Grossi reported at the IAEA’s last Board of Governors meeting in March 2024 that “Iran has unilaterally stopped implementing the Joint Statement, which raises doubts that Iran remains committed to what we have agreed.”

Since February 2021, Tehran has eroded IAEA monitoring and engaged in new breaches of its nonproliferation commitments, such as disbarring key inspectors, failing to report the construction of new nuclear facilities, and refusing to explain past nuclear weapons-related work, while amassing enriched uranium and shortening the time it requires to produce nuclear weapons.

No New Iranian Commitments

Grossi said during his press conference with Eslami, “What we are looking at are concrete measures that could make [the joint statement] operational.” Eslami, by contrast, asserted that the “important point is that Mr. Grossi takes the necessary actions to settle the problems that are mainly political.” The day before, Eslami strongly suggested at the Esfahan conference’s opening ceremony that the IAEA was beholden to political pressures.

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

What to Know About Iran’s Nuclear Program: Advanced Centrifuges,” FDD Visual

IAEA Director General May Attend Iran Nuclear Technology Conference,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Biodefense Energy International Organizations Iran Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation