Ever since President Trump bailed out of the Iran nuclear deal, that country has been continually moving toward more and more contentious work on its nuclear program. With no sign that America is coming back to the table and the possibility of resumed UN sanctions looming, the Iranians this week took even more drastic steps, threatening to throw IAEA inspectors out of the country entirely. This comes after they announced that they were going back to enriching uranium and suggesting that they were resuming work on a nuclear weapon. So in other words, things aren’t exactly coming up roses over there. (Free Beacon)
Iranian leaders are threatening to sever their country’s cooperation with international nuclear inspectors tasked with ensuring the Islamic Republic does not resume its secretive work on a nuclear weapon.
As the United States and Europe tighten the economic noose on Iran’s economy, Iran has significantly scaled back its commitment to the landmark nuclear accord. In addition to resuming the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, Tehran has signaled that it is picking back up its nuclear bomb work.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sought to perform oversight on Iran’s contested nuclear sites since the deal was reached, it has disclosed in recent months that Iran is blocking access to key sites. Now, Iran is warning that it may end all cooperation with the IAEA in yet another sign of escalating tensions.
Last week, multiple European nations agreed that Iran was now back in violation of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, leading to calls for the United Nations to reimpose heavy sanctions on the country that had been eased in recent years. This is apparently what led to the threat to give the boot to the IAEA inspectors.
But how much of a loss is this? Iran already has a long history of not cooperating with the IAEA and hiding their nuclear assets. And for their part, the IAEA hasn’t exactly been the most diligent watchdog we could hope for. You may recall that back in 2018, Isreal identified a suspicious warehouse in Iran where they were supposedly hiding materials and equipment for their nuclear weapons program. They demanded that the IAEA get in there immediately to inspect it before Iran had the chance to hide everything elsewhere. After dithering for more than a week, the IAEA refused to pursue the matter.
In 2017, the IAEA admitted that it “lacked the tools,” as well as the access, to properly inspect a number of assets in Iran’s nuclear program. As you will recall, in 2016 the Obama administration claimed that Iran was facing “the most comprehensive, intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.” It was one of the main selling points for the nuclear deal. But from the beginning of that era, the IAEA was never able to ensure real disclosure was taking place.
We can look all the way back to 2012 for more examples. At that time, Iran was refusing to allow the IAEA access to the Parchin military site, long suspected to be a key portion of their growing nuclear weapons research. The United Nations huffed and puffed, but never managed to get full access to those areas. And there is no reason to think that Iran was being honest about such matters then and even less reason to believe them now.
The remaining question is whether or not the United Nations still has the cohesion to reapply sanctions. Both the Russians and the Chinese have been very cozy with Iran of late. And without their cooperation, further action toward sanctions may prove impossible. But with all that in mind, Iran shouldn’t be allowed to use the threat of banning IAEA inspections as any sort of leverage. It’s not like they’ve been cooperating up until now anyway.