Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Last chance: Iran making capital of visit of IAEA director to it

Friday 10/March/2023 - 01:28 PM
The Reference
Mohamed Shaath

A recent announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the degree of uranium enrichment in Iran has raised fears that the Islamic Republic might be close to acquiring a nuclear bomb.

According to the IAEA, particles of enriched uranium up to 83.7% were found in Iran.

This degree brings Iran close to the manufacture of nuclear weapons, especially in the underground Fordow nuclear reactor.

This enrichment degree contradicts Iran's claims that the goals of its nuclear programme are peaceful.

There can be no peaceful purposes for reaching such a degree of uranium enrichment.

Iran's enrichment rate should not exceed 3.67%, in the light of Iran's nuclear agreement with Western states.

This degree is suitable for generating nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

However, Tehran attributed the presence of the aforementioned particles to what it described as 'unintended fluctuations' in uranium enrichment levels.

Last chance visit

Shadow wars, targeting Iranian nuclear and military facilities are returning at a time when the international community threatens to take decisive steps towards the Iranian nuclear programme.

The visit of the IAEA director to Tehran also came with an announcement about the failure of negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement.

Rafael Grossi visited the Iranian capital on March 3 and 4. He met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran may need to use this last chance visit, before international action against it, especially after the failure of all efforts to settle row over its nuclear programme in a diplomatic manner.

Iran said it had reached an agreement with the IAEA to the agency's inspectors to conduct further inspections of Tehran's nuclear programme, in addition to resuming the delivery of surveillance cameras at several nuclear sites.

Iran had previously disconnected the cameras, a move criticized by the agency earlier.

The announced agreement represents a retreat on the part of Iran – albeit a tactical one – as it had previously signalled the deactivation of the Additional Protocol, the second article of which provides for a general description of development research activities related to the nuclear fuel cycle, the location of uranium mines and concentration plants and thorium concentration plants, their operational status and estimated annual production capacity.

The Additional Protocol acquires importance, as its Article IV gives IAEA inspectors the right to access any place and location unexpectedly, on a selective basis in order to ensure the absence of any undeclared nuclear materials or nuclear activities, to resolve any question regarding the correctness and completeness of the information provided or to resolve any inconsistencies regarding the information.

Outstanding issues

It seems from the joint statement issued by Iran and the IAEA that one of the most important obstacles has become non-existent, namely the issue of undeclared sites.

The joint statement made clear that Iran is ready to provide more information and assist in the IAEA's long-stalled investigation of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites in Iran.

Tehran also expressed its readiness to provide more information.