Europeans to push for Iran censure at UN nuclear watchdog meeting

The three European members of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will put forward a resolution condemning Iran’s suspension of some inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog, diplomatic sources say.

France, Germany, and the UK will propose it during this week’s meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog’s board of governors, a delicate moment for diplomacy on the Iranian nuclear issue.

US President Joe Biden has said he is willing to bring the United States back to the landmark 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers on its nuclear program.

It has been unraveling since Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018.

But the proposed resolution could derail the temporary agreement that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi hammered out with Iran to mitigate what he calls the “huge loss” of some IAEA inspections.

Iran’ Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi (R), in Tehran on February 21, 2021. (AFP)

A document circulated by the Iranian mission in Vienna and seen by AFP says the introduction of a critical resolution would effectively end the temporary agreement with the IAEA.

Under that three-month arrangement, which went into force on February 23, Iran has pledged to keep recordings “of some activities and monitoring equipment” and hand them over to the IAEA as and when US sanctions are lifted.

Sources say the European resolution is expected to come to a vote on Friday, and that it is backed by the United States.

A version of the text seen by AFP “expresses serious concern at Iran’s decision to stop implementing” some inspections-related commitments and “urges Iran to immediately resume implementation.”

The prospect of Iran suspending the temporary agreement with the IAEA in retaliation was described by one diplomatic source as “a risk to be taken” to protect “the credibility of the agency” and stand up to Iranian “blackmail.”

They were confident the resolution would be adopted, the source adds.

Moscow has made clear its opposition to such a resolution.