Iran Nuclear Talks Update 9/12
Negotiation Status: PAUSED
- American and European officials now believe that a nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran is unlikely to be reached “in the near future.”
- Iran continues to insist that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) close its investigation into suspected undeclared, and illegal, Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon – a probe which is wholly separate from Iran’s obligations under a renewed nuclear deal.
- Though Iran had consistently said it wouldn’t enter an agreement until the probe was ended, it had not previously demanded that such assurances be included in the text of the agreement.
E3: Not Convinced Iran Wants a Deal
- France, Germany and Britain released a joint statement on September 10 detailing their “serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)].”
- The E3 nations stressed that Iran must comply with the IAEA and provide the Agency with the technically credible answers it has repeatedly asked for in its investigation into suspected nuclear activity at undeclared sites, saying, “The JCPOA can in no way be used to release Iran from legally binding obligations … essential to the global non-proliferation regime.”
- The statement also blamed Iran and its new demands about the IAEA investigation for the current stalemate: “While we were edging closer to an agreement, Iran reopened separate issues that relate to its legally binding international obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty,” i.e. Iran’s ongoing stonewalling of the IAEA probe into its past weaponization efforts.
- Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani called the statement “unconstructive” and declared, “Iran has not raised new issues that could be obstacle to an agreement & conclusion of the talks.”
- Kanaani also warned that an IAEA Board of Governors resolution condemning Iran would “face a proportionate consequence.”
- The Wall Street Journal had reported on September 9 that such a resolution was unlikely at the Board of Governors meeting this week, after it censured Iran on June 8 for blocking the IAEA probe into past weaponization work.
IAEA Chief Grossi: Safeguards Issues Remain
- With the Board of Governors meeting this week, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi submitted a statement on September 12 emphasizing the damage that has been done by Iran disabling the Agency’s surveillance and monitoring equipment several months ago. This is an entirely different “safeguards issue” than the one holding up nuclear deal negotiations, which is the probe into suspected undeclared nuclear sites that Iran is demanding the IAEA close.
- Grossi said that “the information gap is getting bigger and bigger and bigger” while Iran continues to keep the IAEA cameras off. On August 23, he said that the IAEA “lost … continuity of knowledge” because of the cameras being shut off, expressing doubt about his ability to “fill in the [knowledge] gaps.”
- Grossi’s added that, to fill these knowledge gaps, “the Agency would need to apply additional safeguards measures and Iran would need to provide comprehensive and accurate records to the Agency. We would also need to determine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of data recorded by our surveillance equipment between 21 February 2021 and 8 June 2022. Even then, considerable challenges would remain.”
- According to the reported, prospective timeline of the agreement, the Agency would likely only have 60 days to review almost two years of camera footage and monitoring data from Iran.
- On September 7, the IAEA also reported the milestone that “Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60%, close to weapons-grade, has grown to enough, if enriched further, for a nuclear bomb.”
More Congressional Concerns
- A House Resolution introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) would require the Biden administration to immediately provide Congress with the draft text of the deal with Iran and any related or side agreements.
- Though the administration is required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) to submit to Congress any agreement with Iran once the deal is made, this resolution would potentially require the administration to submit the deal prior to it being finalized.
- JINSA has outlined the INARA process and identified five key fixes to ensure that Congress is able to properly and fully conduct required oversight.
Israel: Talks are Dead
- Israel reportedly provided European countries with information that “proved that the Iranians are lying while talks are still happening.”
- A senior Israeli official claimed that talks were dead, saying, “There’s not going to be a JCPOA, say the Americans and most Europeans…. There are no talks right now with Iran. There is no one in Vienna.”
- Many Israeli officials have recently echoed the sentiments of U.S., European, and Iranian sources who are now predicting that no deal will be made until after the U.S. midterm elections in November, if at all.
- As Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was set to meet with German officials, a senior Israeli official said on September 11, “At this point in time, it appears that a nuclear agreement with Iran will not be signed at least until after the [US] midterm elections.”
- Mossad director David Barnea, who visited the United States for meetings with White House officials last week, claimed on September 12 that Israeli actions to prevent a nuclear Iran are unrelated to any potential nuclear deal, saying “Even if a nuclear deal is signed, it will not give Iran immunity from the Mossad operations.”