E3 seeks IAEA action against Iranian nuclear activity

  • Market: Crude oil, Electricity, Metals
  • 30/05/24

The E3 group — a diplomatic coalition comprising France, the UK and Germany — has prepared a draft resolution against Iran for the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA to consider at its board of governors meeting next week.

The draft focuses on a probe into two previously undeclared nuclear sites in Iran and suggests the possibility that IAEA chief Rafael Grossi might provide a more "comprehensive report" on Tehran's nuclear activities than his regular quarterly ones. But it stops short of asking the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for non-compliance, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter told Argus.

"The E3 has prepared a draft resolution and circulated it, despite opposition by the US," the source said. "They have also begun negotiations with other members of the board of governors to ensure the largest number of votes… which will give the adopted resolution weight."

The draft builds on three previous resolutions against Iran "but will stop short of a very important step — referring the issue to the UN Security Council as a situation of non-compliance, which would require an intervention," the source said.

Since June 2020, the IAEA's board of governors has adopted three resolutions against Iran in response to insufficient co-operation on outstanding issues relating to its legal obligations under its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement. The board of governors will convene on 3 June for a week-long meeting, where "the draft resolution is surely going for a vote," the source said, an indication that unanimity among the 35 board members is unlikely.

The US is keen to manage tensions with Tehran at a highly sensitive time for the country following the death of its president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash earlier this month. An editorial published by Iran's state news agency Irna on 29 May suggests Washington's concerns may not be unfounded.

"As per previous experience, if a resolution is issued against Iran, Tehran will react to it and take countermeasures," the editorial said.

Iran responded to two previous IAEA resolutions in June and November 2022 by removing more than 20 IAEA surveillance cameras at its nuclear facilities, and starting the production of 60pc enriched uranium at its Fordow nuclear site.

"Based on history, issuing this resolution will be more detrimental to those issuing it than to Iran," Irna said.

Building blocks

"What is happening right now is the process of accumulation of resolutions, so that when the day comes and the IAEA makes a referral to the UN Security Council, there will be enough resolutions to make a case for action at the security council level," the source noted.

Concerns among western officials over Iran's nuclear activity have been mounting since Tehran began breaching restrictions in 2019 in response to former US president Donald Trump's decision to pull Washington out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and a group of world powers. Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60pc purity, according to the IAEA. Near 90pc is considered to be weapons grade.


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