UN nuclear watchdog issues condemnation of Iran for lack of cooperation

Second resolution passed as Western powers ramp up pressure on Islamic Republic to explain undeclared uranium particles found at its facilities

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks to journalists after the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 16, 2022. (Joe Klamar/AFP)
Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks to journalists after the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 16, 2022. (Joe Klamar/AFP)

VIENNA, Austria — The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors has passed a resolution criticizing Iran’s lack of cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog, diplomats told AFP Thursday.

The motion brought by the United States, Britain, France and Germany — but voted against by China and Russia — is the second of its kind within six months and comes amid an impasse over undeclared uranium particles found in Iran.

This is the second critical resolution this year, after one in June, on the subject of a lack of “technically credible” answers provided by Iran regarding the particles.

In the absence of progress in recent months, Washington, London, Paris and Berlin have decided to increase the pressure.

The resolution underscores that it is “essential and urgent” for Iran to “act to fulfill its legal obligations.”

Iran warned that the move may “affect the process of our country’s cooperation” with the UN nuclear watchdog.

“We firmly believe that this resolution will have no result… it is intended to justify more unilateral sanctions against the Iranian nation,” said Mohsen Naziri-Asl, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, according to the official IRNA news agency.

The IAEA has been pressing Iran to provide answers on the presence of undeclared uranium of man-made origin found at three sites in the past, including “access to locations and material,” as well as the collection of samples.

Various centrifuge machines line a hall at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, on April 17, 2021. (Screenshot/Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting-IRIB, via AP)

The resolution was carried by 26 votes in favor versus two against, with five abstentions and two countries absent, diplomats told AFP.

Iran denounces pressure

Before the vote on the resolution, the US delegation to the UN in Vienna said in their national statement to the board that “Iran must now provide the necessary cooperation, no more empty promises.”

The EU delegation expressed their serious concern over the lack of progress from Iran in clarifying and resolving the outstanding safeguards issues.

Iran had denounced the resolution yesterday, stating that “documents which… are not true” were put forward.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov echoed that position after the resolution was passed on Thursday.

“From the Russian viewpoint, it is better than in June when a similar resolution got 30 votes in favor,” he tweeted.

The impasse over the agency’s probe comes as wider talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are stalled.

An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, on February 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The years-long probe has been a key sticking point that led to a similar resolution criticizing Tehran in June.

At the time, the Islamic Republic responded to it by removing surveillance cameras and other equipment from its nuclear facilities.

The 2015 agreement Iran reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States gave Tehran relief from sanctions in return for guarantees it could not develop an atomic weapon.

Iran has always denied wanting a nuclear arsenal.

The deal collapsed after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump.

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