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Tehran Condemns UN Nuclear Watchdog's “Anti-Iran” Resolution

By Nigar Bayramli June 9, 2024

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International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attended a news conference in Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2023. / Majid Asgaripour / WANA via Reuters

Iran's Foreign Ministry has described an “anti-Iranian resolution" passed by the UN's nuclear watchdog as a "political and non-constructive move".

On 5 June, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed the resolution, drafted by France, Germany and the UK which is collectively known as the E3, calling on Iran to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites, urgently cooperate and reverse its decision to bar some of its inspectors. Russia and China opposed the resolution while 20 voted in favor and 12 abstained.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the resolution, saying in a statement that “Iran views the proposal and approval of this resolution as a politically-motivated and unconstructive move and the continuation of previously failed policies of some Western governments as well as a bid to politically abuse international mechanisms against independent countries”.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to continuing its technical cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in line with its legal and international obligations based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the safeguards agreement,” the statement added.

The ministry stressed that “the issuance of the resolution will not affect Iran’s resolve to press ahead with its peaceful nuclear program and to implement its nuclear development plans in line with its rights under related international treaties”.

Iran's mission to the United Nations also condemned the resolution, saying that the resolution would negatively impact Tehran's cooperation with the IAEA, and the E3 would be held accountable for any consequences arising from the adoption of this resolution.

Prior to the adoption of the resolution, the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, said on June 4 that "there are parties in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal), including the US, that have made commitments and have not fulfilled their promises. They withdrew from the JCPOA, while they did not fulfil their commitments and did not allow others to cooperate with them".

He added that Iran was fulfilling its commitments within the Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA's Safeguards agreements and that Iran would return to its JCPOA obligations if the Western countries did so, but would "definitely react if they pass a resolution or apply political pressure".

The talks over the revival of the JCPOA have slowed down for over a year. Following the US withdrawal from the deal in May 2018, Iran began gradually increasing its uranium enrichment. However, Iran reiterates that it has not withdrawn from the nuclear deal, insisting that it acted accordingly.

In 2022, the IAEA Board of Governors censured Iran twice over its alleged lack of cooperation with the agency's safeguards probe. In reaction to the first censure resolution, Iran removed monitoring equipment from several nuclear sites – including cameras – in June 2022. In March 2023, the global nuclear watchdog found uranium particles enriched to 83.7% purity – very close to weapons-grade – at Iran's underground Fordow nuclear site.

Low-enriched uranium, which typically has a 3-5% concentration of U-235, can be used to produce fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. Highly enriched uranium has a purity of 20% or more and is used in research reactors. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more. Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% purity and to halt enrichment altogether at Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.