t is not generally accepted that Iran has an internationally guaranteed right to enrich. The US and its European allies have repeatedly said during nuclear negotiations with Tehran that the regime must decrease its current enrichment infrastructure. Yet Iran has insisted that it plans to dramatically expand that infrastructure, and it maintains the position that a final agreement with the other negotiating parties must accept that Iran has a right to domestically produce nuclear material, ultimately in any quantities it desires.
The success of nuclear negotiations is thought to depend in part upon a softening of the Iranian position. The US position has already softened repeatedly, whereas Tehran has actually set additional red lines and increased its demands throughout the process, declaring ballistic missile stockpiles and enrichment capabilities to be off limits for negotiators.
The process is also expect to depend on the outcome of the IAEA probe, which last week was reported to have seen little progress, with Iran missing the August 25 deadline and continuing to deny IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military base that has been long suspected of having connections to the military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program.
As such, the extent of Iran’s past progress towards a nuclear weapon remains unknown, and questions remain about the exact locations and relevant details of the nation’s nuclear infrastructure. Yet this has not stopped Iran from expecting the international community to take a position in favor of the inviolability of that same infrastructure.
The immediate cause of Iran’s request to the IAEA is the supposed incursion into Iranian air space of an Israeli-made drone. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps claims to have shot this drone down as it conducted reconnaissance over Natanz, an Iranian nuclear research site. However, the drone’s existence and its Israeli origins have not been independently verified, and numerous reports from outside of Iran have cast doubt upon Tehran’s narrative.
Experts have observed that the wreckage photographed by the IRGC resembles components of an Iranian made drone, leading to speculation that Iran downed one of its own drones either accidentally or intentionally, and then used the images for purposes of anti-Israeli propaganda. Furthermore, the type of drone that Iran claims to have shot down would be incapable of flying to Natanz from Israel and returning. This may have led Iran to change its story after the initial reports in order to say that the drone came not directly from Israel, but from a “former Soviet country to the north,” presumably Azerbaijan. But this still does not fit with the claimed drone’s flight capabilities.
All of this leads to the conclusion that Iran is currently asking the IAEA to issue a resolution in Iran’s favor based on unproven and dubious intelligence, in defense of a nuclear infrastructure that remains significantly hidden from the international community.