May 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Amid New Iranian Nuclear Advances, Washington Blocks European Push for IAEA Censure

May 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Amid New Iranian Nuclear Advances, Washington Blocks European Push for IAEA Censure

Latest Developments

The United States is blocking European states from pursuing a formal censure of Iran for its nonproliferation violations, despite a push by the United Kingdom and France, The Wall Street Journal reported on May 27. A senior European diplomat told Reuters on May 24 that the United Kingdom, France, and Germany — the “E3” — had prepared a resolution, which Washington refused to support, for an upcoming meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Journal, the “U.S. has pressed a number of other countries to abstain in a censure vote, saying that is what Washington will do.”

The unnamed EU diplomat told Reuters, “Our analysis is the death of [Iranian president] Raisi changes nothing. We have to move forward with this resolution … The Americans are the difficulty, and in our conversations we continue to do everything to convince them.” According to Reuters, the U.S. objection lies in its fear that a censure resolution will provide a pretext for Iran to escalate its nuclear activities.

Expert Analysis

“In July 2022, during his visit to Israel, President Joe Biden delivered the Jerusalem Declaration. The president put into words the commitments given by at least three of his predecessors: ‘… the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.’ The Biden administration now won’t even support a resolution advocated for by our closest European allies censuring Iran at the IAEA Board of Governors for flagrant nuclear violations. The president is clearly not serious about using any elements of his national power to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons march.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO 

“This transatlantic stalemate should shock and concern all Americans. The Biden administration has continued to block common-sense pushback against Iran’s nonproliferation infractions at the expense of regional and global security. The result is Tehran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons is progressing steadily and penalty-free.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

“Today, it is not President Trump’s maximum pressure policy that is preventing a transatlantic consensus on Iran’s nuclear program but rather the Biden administration’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Iran’s nuclear advances. The more President Biden pulls diplomatic punches, as the United States has at the IAEA Board of Governors for nearly two years, the more Tehran will see a green light to press ahead.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Stalemate Over Confronting Iran

The IAEA will hold a quarterly Board of Governors meeting from June 3-7, where the board will review Tehran’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The meeting will take place in the wake of two confidential reports submitted by the IAEA to member states on May 27, one of which contains data indicating the Islamic Republic could more quickly produce weapons-grade uranium (WGU) — uranium enriched to 90 percent purity. The regime can now make WGU for up to 13 nuclear weapons in four months, nearly four of which could be made using the regime’s growing stock of 60 percent highly enriched uranium.

During Biden’s term in office, Iran has moved dramatically closer to weaponizing its nuclear program while refusing greater IAEA monitoring of its activities and cooperation with a five-year IAEA investigation into the regime’s nuclear weapons work. A senior European diplomat explained to Reuters: “It’s extremely difficult with Iran and the level of violations is unprecedented … There is no slowing down of its [program] and there is no real goodwill by Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.”

For 18 months, Washington has refused to support new IAEA censure of Iran, and U.S. failure to support such resolutions typically renders them defunct. Instead, the administration has unfrozen Iranian assets and failed to enforce oil sanctions following periodic, indirect talks with Iran, most recently in hopes of eliciting Tehran’s restraint ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.

At the last IAEA board meeting in March, the United States also threatened to seek a comprehensive IAEA report on Iran’s nonproliferation violations at a subsequent board meeting. However, The Journal reported that Washington will seek no such report until after the election.

U.S. Conducts Secret, Indirect Nuclear Talks with Iran’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator,” FDD Flash Brief

What to Know About Iran’s Nuclear Program,” FDD Visuals

Exploiting America’s Declining Pressure: Iran’s Nuclear Escalation Over Time,” FDD Visual


International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation