Iran: Growing scepticism about reviving JCPOA as Tehran continues to ramp up its nuclear activity
On Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a new report on Iran’s nuclear activities, while Western signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) expressed growing skepticism about the prospects for reviving the deal, which sought to extend Iran’s “breakout time” for a nuclear weapon. Even with its current capabilities and existing supplies of 60 percent enriched uranium, the regime can now produce 25 kg of weapons-grade uranium – more than enough for one nuclear weapon – in three to four weeks, according to experts.
Last year, the Iranian regime denied international inspectors access to declared nuclear sites, and in June, the regime responded to the IAEA board of governor’s criticism by dismantling surveillance cameras, potentially creating permanent gaps in the agency’s understanding of recent nuclear activities.
Following the implementation of the nuclear agreement, the IAEA eventually gained access to soil samples from three suspect sites that Tehran had not previously declared as having a role in the nuclear program. When man-made nuclear material was discovered in those samples, the IAEA began requesting explanations, and the regime became obstinate.
Meanwhile, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) maintains that the Iranian nuclear program has never lost its military dimensions and that Tehran’s obstruction of the IAEA investigation is easily explained as part of an effort to conceal ongoing work in this area. While the agency has refrained from making specific accusations against the Iranian regime, its Director General Rafael Grossi is said to be “increasingly concerned” about “no progress” in resolving the long-running conflict.
In recent weeks, Iran and the United States have gone back and forth on the EU’s “final text,” with neither side publicly disclosing its contents or their own comments. However, it has been widely reported that there are still some key sticking points and that Tehran has floated the idea of additional negotiations lasting until September, resulting in additional changes to a document that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has pointedly described as having no more room for compromise.
Furthermore, since the submission of the “final text,” Iran’s regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi has stated repeatedly that his government sees no way forward for the JCPOA revival agreement as long as the IAEA’s investigation is ongoing. This stance presumably contributed to the US State Department’s determination on Thursday that the most recent communications from Tehran to Washington had been non-constructive and had not moved the negotiating process any closer to a resolution.
"Dropping probes is not something the IAEA does or will ever do without a proper process. The key to this lies on a very simple thing. Will Iran cooperate with us?" @IAEAorg DG @rafaelmgrossi tells me after Russia's lead negotiator said the issue "seems to be settled." pic.twitter.com/ySrRL38q69
— Becky Anderson (@BeckyCNN) August 22, 2022
On Monday, Borrell reached a similar conclusion, admitting with unusual candor that he was “less confident” about a resolution and saw the Iranian and Western positions as “diverging” despite 18 months of effort to reach an agreement.
This lack of confidence may have been exacerbated by the fact that the IAEA’s critical report coincided with the release of a Swedish intelligence report revealing that the Iranian regime attempted to illegally procure components for its nuclear program inside the Scandinavian country in 2021. This was eerily similar to a similar report released by German intelligence in June, which was only the most recent in a series of similar assessments.
Must-Read: Timeline of NCRI’s Revelations to Prevent a Nuclear-armed #Iran
The ruling clerics view possessing nuclear weapons as an insurance policy that would grant them perpetual international impunity.https://t.co/BKqIHCx068
— NCRI-U.S. Rep Office (@NCRIUS) March 2, 2022