June 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Chief Says 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Means Nothing,’ Touts Iran’s Cooperation with Russia

June 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

IAEA Chief Says 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Means Nothing,’ Touts Iran’s Cooperation with Russia

Latest Developments

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi told Russian state media that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “exists only on paper and means nothing” in an interview published on June 17. Speaking to the Russian daily Izvestia, Grossi said that “nobody applies” or “follows” the nuclear agreement. “There were attempts to revive it,” Grossi explained, but “they failed for reasons unknown to me, because I was not involved in the process.” Talks between Iran and five world powers aimed at restoring the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), broke down in September 2022.

Grossi also claimed that Russia’s partnership with Iran is essential because Moscow “can influence compliance with a peaceful nuclear order.” Since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Tehran has provided thousands of drones and missiles to Moscow for its war against Ukraine while seeking advanced military equipment in return. Russia, meanwhile, seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and regularly threatens the safety and security of the facility, risking a radioactive incident.

Expert Analysis

“Iran’s nuclear capability is a win for the Kremlin and a loss for the West. It’s in Russia’s interest for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and maintain nuclear disorder so Tehran can blackmail the West and destabilize the region, which is exactly what Moscow wants. Russia and Iran also have a long history of violating international agreements, and whoever believes that they will adhere to their nuclear promises is sorely mistaken. It is high time for the United Nations to see through Russia’s and Iran’s psychological games. If Iran develops nuclear weapons, Moscow will use its junior partner for more intimidation and concessions.” — Ivana Stradner, FDD Research Fellow

“The United States and Europe must finally put an end to the JCPOA’s zombie-like status and restore prior UN Security Council resolutions against Iran. Tehran has taken full advantage of the lapse in UN embargoes on its missile, drone, and military programs to arm Russia and will do the same to bolster Iran’s nuclear program when JCPOA procurement restrictions sunset in 2025.” — Andrea Stricker, FDD Research Fellow and Deputy Director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program

Russia-Iran Nuclear Cooperation Enhanced

In February 2023, the Biden administration threatened to sanction Russia for assisting Iran with a planned expansion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. A subsidiary of Russia’s state-run Rosatom Corporation is responsible for building two new reactor units, having broken ground on space for the second reactor in 2023.

On April 8, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s annual nuclear technology day, the regime announced plans to continue expanding the Bushehr plant to a third unit. “We will witness the first concrete pouring at Phase 3 of Bushehr Power Plant in the month of May,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Mohammad Eslami said. Moscow stands to earn some $10 billion from the Bushehr expansion even as it continues a war of aggression against Ukraine.

Moscow’s Military Partnership with Tehran

Former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart, Gharaei Ashtiani, discussed enhanced security ties during a meeting in Kazakhstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Russian state-owned media outlet RIA Novosti reported on April 26. Shoigu reportedly highlighted a significant increase in military contracts between Tehran and Moscow during the meeting, which came days after an April 17 revelation of secret Russian government documents envisioning greater coordination with Iran, China, and North Korea to reshape the U.S.-led world order. Moscow and Tehran are also working together to evade Western sanctions.

Russia and Iran Agree to Deepen Security Ties,” FDD Flash Brief

Congress Seeks Answers on U.S. Failure to Sanction Iran-Russia Nuclear Cooperation,” FDD Flash Brief

Presidents of Iran, Russia Hail Bilateral Ties,” FDD Flash Brief


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