As Europeans Pressure US to Respond on Nuclear Deal, Iran Attacks IAEA Chief for Contacts With ‘Zionist Regime’
As European negotiators attempt to push the US into a response on a revived nuclear deal with Iran, the Islamic Republic on Tuesday launched a bitter attack against the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), accusing him of working with “the Zionist regime” to prevent the lifting of sanctions against Tehran.
An editorial published on Tuesday by Nour News — one of the Iranian regime’s numerous official news outlets — accused IAEA chief Rafael Grossi of undermining Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, charging that he had raised concerns about its activities “regardless of Iran’s goodwill and based on undocumented reports provided to the IAEA by the Zionist regime.”
The editorial went on to assert that “Grossi’s continued adoption of this approach shows that he, along with the Zionist regime, is still the main obstacle to the finalization of the sanctions-lifting negotiations.”
The Nour News agency is affiliated with the Iranian regime’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and specifically with Gen. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council.
Grossi’s visit to Israel in June, in the same week that the Israeli government accused Iran of stealing classified documents from the IAEA, was also harshly criticized in the same editorial. Later that week, Grossi angered the Iranians when he warned that the regime’s removal of “basically all” the monitoring equipment installed in their nuclear facilities following the original nuclear deal of 2015 could deal a “fatal blow” to diplomatic efforts to revive the deal.
“Of course, the questionable behavior of the Director General of the IAEA is a precedent, as he traveled to the occupied territories and talked with the officials of the Zionist regime in an action that attracted a lot of criticism, before holding the meeting of the Board of Governors in June of this year, becoming the founder (sic) of the resolution of the Board of Governors against Iran,” Nour News stated. “The adoption of non-constructive positions by the Director General of the IAEA confirms that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s insistence on the need to resolve the remaining safeguard issues before any agreement, has valid reasons and is aimed at preventing the continuation of the political behavior of the Director General of the IAEA.”
Iran’s salvo against Grossi came as the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, urged the US to quickly respond to the draft text to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA — the technical term for the 2015 deal) following more than a year of negotiations in Vienna. The US withdrew from the original deal in 2018, arguing that its provisions would not prevent Iran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon.
Speaking to a Spanish TV station on Tuesday, Borrell claimed that “most” of the countries involved in the negotiations had agreed to the draft, but not the US.
He added that “Iran responded by saying ‘yes but,’ that is to say they want some adjustments.”
Borrell said that the Iranian adjustments had seemed “reasonable” to him and were now being considered by negotiators. The admission signals an apparent retreat from his Aug. 8 statement that “what can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text.” A spokesperson for Borrell reiterated that position the next day, saying, “[I]t’s yes or no … Everything that could be negotiated has been incorporated into the final version of the text and it is now up to the signatory countries to take political decisions.”
On Monday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price gave no clues as to whether President Joe Biden’s administration would agree to the draft, explaining that Iran’s proposed changes meant that the US needed “some additional time to review those comments and to determine our response of our own.”