Key Points

In its November 11 report, the IAEA called on Iran to cooperate with its investigation into the uranium particles found at the Turquzabad site, stating, “It is essential for Iran to continue interactions with the Agency to resolve this matter as soon as possible.” In light of Iran’s misconduct, parties to the JCPOA can now decide whether to invoke the dispute resolution process of the JCPOA to support the full implementation of the CSA and AP.

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The “maximum pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic of Iran is one-year old. So too, ironically, is the Trump administration’s policy of providing sanctions waivers for select Iranian nuclear projects permitted by the 2015 nuclear deal. The most troublesome of these waivers — as we have previously written — is for an underground nuclear bunker called Fordow. Recently, Iran undertook enrichment-related activities at the Fordow facility that are prohibited until 2030. In response, Washington should revoke Fordow’s sanctions waiver and use the opportunity to clarify its Iran policy.

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The IAEA reports that it attended one meeting of the JCPOA Procurement Working Group at the UN.  It does not report on findings by the United States which may suggest that Iran has been procuring goods controlled on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Part 2 dual-use list.  In August, the U.S. Department of Justice arrested a man for illegally procuring for Iran computer numerical controlled machines (CNC) that are controlled for export for nuclear proliferation reasons.  The alleged violations occurred between 2015 and 2018.  The U.S Treasury Department also sanctioned a network called the Shariat network in August for conducting, since at least 2016, alleged illicit procurements for Iranian end-users controlled by Iran’s Defense Ministry.  These end-users outfit Iran’s nuclear and long-range missile delivery system programs.  Iran is required to use the JCPOA’s Procurement Channel, headquartered at the UN Secretariat, to obtain NSG-listed items.  It would be useful for the IAEA to report on such procurement matters which concern JCPOA implementation and Iran’s adherence to its commitments.

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But with the International Monetary Fund now forecasting Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5% in 2019, the Trump administration is betting that Iran could still change its mind.

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There is no substitute for U.S. leadership on the matter. The Trump administration continues to use the rhetoric of maximum pressure against Iran. Revoking and suspending two waivers related to the regime’s illicit nuclear activities would go a long way toward backing up this rhetoric with concrete policies.

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Projects