June 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Members Vote to Censure Iran Over Nuclear Violations

June 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Members Vote to Censure Iran Over Nuclear Violations

Latest Developments

Member states of the 35-nation Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to censure Iran’s nonproliferation violations during a quarterly meeting of the body in Vienna on June 5. Twenty states voted in favor of the censure, while two states, China and Russia, opposed and 12 abstained.

The resolution demands that Iran reverse its threatening nuclear advances, restore IAEA monitoring and the designation of key agency inspectors, and enter into compliance with its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations — including a five-year IAEA investigation into Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons work. The resolution also suggests the IAEA may need to issue a comprehensive report on the regime’s non-compliance with NPT safeguards. During the meeting, the board also took note of new IAEA reports that indicate Iran is inching closer to a nuclear weapon, increasing its stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent — a short step from the weapons-grade level of 90 percent. Tehran has said it will take retaliatory nuclear steps in response to the IAEA resolution.

Expert Analysis

“IAEA member states voted today to uphold the Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA safeguards. Now comes the difficult part: developing a strategy for weathering Iran’s countermoves and restoring a transatlantic pressure campaign to roll back Tehran’s nuclear advances. The alternative is continuing to let Iran creep toward the nuclear threshold with impunity.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

“An IAEA board resolution that calls out Iran for non-compliance with its most basic nuclear obligations is one of the least provocative pressure tools available. If the United States and its allies give in to threats from Tehran over a piece of paper, they will never be serious about doing all it takes to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The fact that the E3 had to shame Washington into a resolution censuring Tehran for nuclear non-compliance is an embarrassment. Three years into Biden’s term, the administration is signaling major risk aversion in the face of a fast-expanding Iranian nuclear program. Tehran will read the tea leaves in Washington and may not be willing to stop its nuclear march.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Initial U.S. Opposition

France, the United Kingdom, and Germany (known as the “E3”) presented the draft resolution despite initial U.S. opposition to the plan. Washington ultimately voted for the resolution after failing to dissuade its European allies from moving forward.

IAEA censure resolutions create political pressure for states to comply with nonproliferation obligations. Iran’s failure to comply with the resolution’s demands could ultimately lead to Washington, its European allies, and other partners referring Tehran’s case to the UN Security Council (UNSC) for non-compliance. At the UNSC, the United States, France, or the United Kingdom could trigger the reimposition of all the UN Iran sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal’s implementation of UNSC Resolution 2231, including arms, drone, and missile embargoes, and restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities. A statement by the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Laura S.H. Holgate, hinted at an “inflection point” where states would need to decide on whether to reimpose these sanctions before the mechanism for doing so expires in October 2025.

Amid New Iranian Nuclear Advances, Washington Blocks European Push for IAEA Censure,” FDD Flash Brief

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

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


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