When U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, met with IAEA officials in Vienna on Wednesday, the hope was that the United States would be reassured regarding the oversight of Iran by the atomic officials. Haley has since indicated that the U.S. is determined to ensure the IAEA has the resources needed to maintain robust verification of the nuclear-related activities of the Iranian regime.
However, the international community has concerns that based on the first few months of his presidency, President Trump is more likely to do something rash that could result in freeing Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions by violating the nuclear agreement. The international community is seen to be backing the JCPOA, at least until substantial evidence comes forward that Iran is in violation.
The IAEA is charged with verifying compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, including the United States. The pact outlined what Tehran had to do to bring its nuclear program from the brink of weapons-making capacity in exchange for the ending many of the financial, trade and oil sanctions negatively impacting Iran’s economy.
The IAEA’s inspections are part of that determination, and so far, Iran has been able to show that they are meeting their obligations under the agreement. The current U.S. administration has also certified to Congress that Iran is in compliance twice.
Iran has taken advantage of President Trump’s remarks on the deal to file a complaint against the United States within the UN for allegedly violating the agreement. Additionally, Iran has spoken out, indicating that they could have centrifuges working at processing uranium within a short period of time if the United States breaks the agreement.
Part of Iran’s complaint was that the U.S. officials, by meeting with the IAEA, were raising concerns over potential violations of the spirit and letter of the nuclear deal and the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed it.
“Regrettably, this visit, with the stated purpose to ‘press the agency,’ is widely perceived by the international community as a manifest and blatant attempt…to put pressure on the agency and adversely affect the professional and impartial nature of the work of the IAEA in carrying out the job entrusted to it,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif in a letter to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Haley noted that while the IAEA did their job credibility and professionally, the reality is that their reports are only as good as the access that Iran allows. It is this lack of access that continues to be an issue in international circles.