Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization

Iran Says Cooperation With UN Nuclear Watchdog Limited to NPT

Sunday, 06/23/2024

Iran’s top nuclear official says the country's interactions with the UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, are limited to the legal boundaries of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Safeguards.

Mohammad Eslami emphasized that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has no right to demand anything beyond these limits.

The statement arises amid increased scrutiny over Iran's nuclear activities, with international concern about potential NPT violations.

In his Sunday remarks, Eslami argued that the IAEA's role should be confined to "legal obligations" that the agency should maintain without exceeding its mandate.

"The agency is responsible for oversight, encouragement, and fair distribution of nuclear technology. This is a legal obligation, and it must be pursued and demanded within this framework. Beyond this, there is nothing else that the agency should bring up," Eslami said.

Critics see the interpretation by Iran as an attempt to avoid comprehensive inspections and conceal the extent of its nuclear activities. The IAEA has repeatedly expressed concerns about Iran's cooperation with its investigations and the transparency of its nuclear program.

Earlier this month, Board members of the IAEA passed a resolution criticizing Iran's lack of cooperation with IAEA nuclear inspections.

A recent report from the nuclear watchdog indicates that Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium now exceeds 30 times the limit established by the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers (JCPOA). The uranium is enriched to 60 percent, which is near the 90 percent enrichment level required for nuclear weapons.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), established in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany), aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. However, the accord has been under strain since the US withdrawal in 2018, prompting Iran to progressively breach several of its commitments, such as exceeding the uranium enrichment levels and stockpile limits set by the agreement.

Iran's advancements include resuming enrichment at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant and enhancing enrichment purity up to 60%. These actions reduce the breakout time needed to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, raising concerns about the dual-use nature of Iran's nuclear program.

The IAEA has struggled with monitoring challenges due to restrictions imposed by Iran, which complicate efforts to verify the extent of Iran’s enrichment activities. The agency's reports suggest that Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium that could be quickly elevated to weapons-grade levels, amplifying worries about Iran’s intentions.

Iran maintains that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, but its near-weapons-grade enrichment activities continue to provoke international unease.

In its June report, the IAEA said Iran aims to continue expanding its nuclear program in ways that "have no credible peaceful purpose."

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