International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, who have been barred from accessing Iran’s nuclear sites for several months, are looking for an alternative plan to monitor the Iranian government’s nuclear program, given the expansion of the Iranian government’s nuclear program in recent months.
The Iranian government and the IAEA signed two agreements in March 2021 after the Iranian parliament approved the accession and voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol if sanctions were not lifted, following the IAEA inspectors’ access to Iran’s nuclear sites. They signed a one and three-month agreement under which IAEA inspectors could gain some access to the Iranian government’s nuclear sites.
However, after the expiration of the second agreement, which was considered for one month, on June 24, 2021, following the non-lifting of sanctions imposed on the Iranian government, the government refused to renew the agreement with the IAEA.
Since then, IAEA inspectors have not had significant access to the Iranian government’s nuclear program and IAEA surveillance camera data.
In addition, during this period, according to the Iranian government and some Western intelligence sources, Iran has expanded some aspects of its nuclear program, which has raised concerns in the West.
Among these measures, which are contrary to the explicit text of the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) of 2015, is the production of metal uranium for military use and the launch of the second cascade of advanced centrifuges on the Isfahan site.
In addition, the Iranian government continues to evade questions from the IAEA about finding traces of enriched uranium at several nuclear sites they have destroyed.
All these measures, in addition to raising concerns among Western countries partying to JCPOA, have also raised concerns in the IAEA too, which recently announced that it is seeking possible alternative plans in the event of the Vienna talks failing, which is suspended since June 20, 2021.
Prospects for reviving Iran’s nuclear deal and oil sales are fading, and IAEA observers are preparing a quarterly report on safeguards (nuclear safety regulations) in Vienna to be presented to diplomats at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna next month.
IAEA inspectors barred from access to key Iranian government sites are seeking alternative plans considering the government’s rapidly expanding nuclear program, which could lead to an information hole if the JCPOA talks between the Iranian government and world powers fail.
Diplomats in Vienna have said the IAEA could seek to renew a separate agreement with the Iranian government that would specify the number of visits to uranium processing facilities.
It is worth noting that the so-called IAEA safeguards, which the Iranian government has so far been required to comply with, obliges member states to give more access to the International Atomic Energy Agency after violating the specified nuclear restrictions.
The Iranian government’s decision to start producing uranium close to the level required for nuclear warheads has violated the JCPOA’s restrictions.
The Iranian government has in practice violated the IAEA safeguards by increasing the enrichment level to 60%, and the International Energy Agency could request further inspections from the Iranian government.