US against EU push to censure Iran for nuclear activity

  • Market: Electricity, Metals
  • 27/05/24

US president Joe Biden's administration is opposing a European push — spearheaded by France — to rebuke Iran for advances in its nuclear program at the UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA's board of governors meeting in June, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter told Argus.

"The US isn't enthused about the European effort to censure Iran at the IAEA's member state board meeting in early June," the diplomat said. "But there is a general European atmosphere that is exploring options and measures regarding Iran's nuclear program."

The Biden administration is concerned about the need to manage tensions with Tehran, particularly at what is a highly sensitive moment, the source said.

"Bear in mind, this board of governors meeting is happening around 10 days after the helicopter crash killed (Iran's president Ebrahim) Raisi and (foreign minister Hossein) Amir-Abdollahian" both of whom were primary interlocutors with IAEA director General Rafael Grossi on the nuclear file, the source said.

"There is currently a vacuum in Tehran. Timing is bad," the source said, explaining the US position.

A US State Department spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment.

Concerns among western officials have grown over Iran's nuclear activity in recent years. Former US president Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal, resulting in an erosion of strict limits that the agreement had placed on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran, in 2019, began breaching the restrictions and then pushed far beyond them. Tehran has enough highly enriched fissile material for three nuclear weapons, according to the IAEA. Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60pc purity, close to the near 90pc considered to be weapons grade, according to the IAEA.

Grossi in March said inspections in Iran were not what they should have been and called for additional monitoring capabilities, given the depth and breadth of the program.

"On Iran, recent negative developments haven't gone unnoticed. Nuclear threats by Iranian officials, and Grossi's recent interview all sent negative signals," the source said.

The Biden administration has always maintained that it is seeking a diplomatic solution for Iran's nuclear program. And since the conflict between the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas, backed by Iran, and Israel broke out, the US has attempted to stop the spillover of the conflict into the wider region.

US and Iranian officials have met at least twice for indirect talks in Oman this year.

What are the options?

"There is real concern nowadays within the international community that no one exactly knows where Iran is at the moment when it comes to nuclear enrichment," the source says. The IAEA has lost its "continuity of knowledge" in relation to the production and inventory of centrifuges, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate.

"But the options are limited," the source said. The most the IAEA can do if a state is out of compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement is to report its concerns to the UN Security Council.

Since June 2020, The IAEA's board of governors has adopted three resolutions regarding Iran's cooperation regarding the non-proliferation agreement.

"Two reports are to be published ahead of the meeting in June. Their outcome will set the scene on whether another resolution will adopted or not," the source said.


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13/06/24

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