Iran Protests to UN Nuclear Agency as US Ambassador Haley Presses for Extra Scrutiny of Nuclear-Related Activities
The shaky nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six world powers in July 2015 endured another jab on Thursday, as Iran threatened to renege on its commitments.
A statement issued by the Iranian mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna – a UN body that monitors and verifies Iranian compliance with the deal – warned of unspecified “consequences” should IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano accede to what it said was US pressure regarding Iran’s violations, including its repeated ballistic missile tests.
Referring to Wednesday’s meeting between Amano and Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, the Iranian mission’s statement underlined the regime’s view that the deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – “does not oblige Iran to open its military sites to inspection.”
In her official statement following her meeting with Amano on Wednesday, Haley did not mention “military sites” specifically. An official statement from her office said that she and Amano had “discussed the importance of robust and sustained efforts by the IAEA to fulfill its monitoring role in Iran.”
“Ambassador Haley noted that access to facilities in Iran would be crucial to fulfilling this mandate, including obtaining access to any locations in Iran where the IAEA has information regarding activities related to the JCPOA,” the statement continued.
Yet Haley has made her concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program clear, asserting in an August 2 letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres that Iran’s successful launch in July of a space vehicle able to deliver a nuclear weapon was a violation of the deal.
Although the JCPOA does not explicitly address the issue of Iranian ballistic missile launches, the UN Security Council did pass Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015 – less than a week after the nuclear deal was announced, and three months in advance of the JCPOA’s implementation day. That resolution called on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
At the time, US negotiators believed that the UN resolution would be enough to curb any danger to the JCPOA posed by Iran’s missile provocations. One briefing in July 2015 from the Arms Control Association – a Washington, DC-based public policy group that advocated energetically on behalf of the JCPOA – even complained that “critics of the JCPOA either entirely ignore the UN’s adoption of a new multi-year arms trade embargo and its continuing restrictions on Iranian (nuclear-capable) ballistic missile activities or they complain that these restrictions are not permanent.”
Overlooking the UN resolutions, Iran’s view is that American pressure over its military activities is a ruse to destroy the JCPOA. In a letter this week to the IAEA’s Amano, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – a co-architect of the JCPOA with former US Secretary of State John Kerry – accused Haley of wanting to destroy “the independence and credibility” of the IAEA’s nuclear inspectors.
Zarif warned Amano not to make any “contribution to the destructive approach of the US Administration to undermine successful implementation of the JCPOA.” Zarif then added that any information about Iran’s nuclear activities shared with Haley outside of its regular updates “would not be in conformity” with the goal of “successful implementation.”