Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/9

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  • On June 8 as the Board of Governors (BoG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution led by France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States calling on Iran to “urgently cooperate with the IAEA’s probe into undeclared nuclear material in Iran.”
    • For years, Iran has blocked efforts by IAEA inspectors to clarify Tehran’s past work on a nuclear weapon, including by denying access to suspected undeclared nuclear facilities.
      • Iran’s non-compliance with a three-month roadmap it agreed on with the IAEA in March to resolve these concerns led to the BoG’s decision to pass the resolution at its June meeting.
    • The June 8 resolution “expresse[d] profound concern that the safeguards issues related to these three undeclared locations remain outstanding,” and, in the resolution, the IAEA BoG “call[ed] upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfil its legal obligations and, without delay, take up the (IAEA) director general’s offer of further engagement.”
    • Prior to the BoG meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister (FM) Amir-Abdollahian told European Union (EU) chief diplomat Josep Borrell on June 3 that “any political action by the United States and the three European countries in the IAEA would provoke without any doubt a proportional, effective and immediate response on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
      • On June 5, Amir-Abdollahian also tweeted, “Those who push for anti-Iran resolution at IAEA will be responsible for all the consequences.”
    • Iran criticized the resolution “as political, unconstructive and incorrect” on June 9, while Israel lauded the measure, with the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proclaiming on June 9, “We see here a firm stance by the countries of the world regarding the distinction between good and evil, as they clearly state that Iran is concealing things.”
  • Tehran escalated its illegal noncompliance with IAEA transparency measures in retaliation for the BoG’s censure motion.
    • On June 7, a German intelligence report showed that Iran has recently expanded its illicit efforts to procure dual use supplies for its nuclear program.
    • On June 8, Tehran removed and obstructed IAEA cameras in preemptive retaliation for the IAEA motion censuring Iran; on June 9, Tehran announced it will eliminate 27 surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities.
      • In addition, Iran plans to “speed up production and installation” of advanced IR-6, IR-4 and IR-2m centrifuges.
  • In a June 9 statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote, “Iran must cooperate with the IAEA and provide technically credible information in response to the IAEA’s questions, which is the only way to remove these safeguards issues from the Board’s agenda.” Blinken also distinguished between Iran’s obligations as they relate to the IAEA under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and actions relating to the JCPOA nuclear deal.
  • Even before the IAEA censure, diplomats involved in the nuclear negotiations in Vienna were warning yet again that time was running out to move the talks – stalemated since March – over the finish line.
    • U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on June 4,“The possibility to strike a deal and return to #JCPOA is shrinking.” Borrell did acknowledge that “we still can do it with an extra effort.”
    • S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated on June 6 that “a mutual return to compliance… remains a big question mark.”
    • The E3—France, Germany, and Great Britain—released a statement to BoG on June 7 noting that a nuclear deal cannot “remain on the table indefinitely” and that they “strongly urge Iran to … urgently conclude the deal that is on the table.”
    • On June 7, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran had presented a new proposal to reach a nuclear deal with the United States, saying, “in [indirect] exchange of messages [with the] U.S., we’ve offered new initiatives in past 2 days to open the path.”
    • On June 7, the U.S. said in a statement to the IAEA BoG that “we need… a willing partner in Iran” and that Iran’s current demands for the removal of sanctions “are now preventing us from concluding a deal.”
    • On June 9, Blinken added that “a deal has been available since March, but we can only conclude negotiations and implement it if Iran drops its additional demands that are extraneous to the JCPOA.”
    • Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) Rafael Grossi noted on June 9 that the deal would be dealt a “fatal blow” if Iran fails to provide access to IAEA inspectors within three to four weeks.
      • Though Ned Price on June 6 repeated the U.S. talking point that negotiations are subject to a technical clock (as opposed to a chronological clock), saying “the time frame for mutually resuming compliance with the JCPOA … is not based on whether it’s a week or a month from now,” Grossi’s statements appear to have put that technical clock into temporal units.