US to back IAEA resolution despite Iran warning

United States will join the UK, France and Germany in urging Iran to co-operate with UN nuclear watchdog

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters 'it is essential that Iran does fully comply with its legally binding obligations' under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Reuters
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The United States confirmed on Thursday it would join Europeans in backing a resolution urging Iran to co-operate with the UN nuclear watchdog, despite warnings from Tehran that the move could scuttle diplomacy.

"We can confirm that we plan to join the UK, France and Germany in seeking a resolution focused on the need for Iran to fully co-operate with the IAEA," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

He said the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency raised "very serious concerns that Iran has failed to credibly respond" to the Vienna-based body's questions.

"It is essential that Iran does fully comply with its legally binding obligations" under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Price told reporters.

Iran warned on Wednesday against "unconstructive action" at the IAEA and said it would respond "firmly and appropriately".

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, right, visits the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant with chief of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Mohammad Eslami. AFP

But the US negotiator on Iran said chances are dimming for an agreement, despite more than a year of indirect talks.

The Biden administration has voiced willingness to remove sweeping sanctions imposed by Mr Trump in exchange for Iran returning to full compliance.

But Iran has also pressed for the removal of the clerical state's elite Revolutionary Guards from a terrorism blacklist, a step Mr Biden has rejected.

The latest IAEA report said Iran has not clarified questions about the presence of nuclear material found at three undeclared sites.

Iran says it is not seeking a nuclear weapon but has been met by scepticism, especially from Israel, which is suspected in an assassination campaign against Iranian nuclear scientists.

Meanwhile, The director of the UN’s atomic watchdog arrived in Israel and is set to hold talks with top officials.

The visit comes as Israel expresses mounting concerns about Iran’s atomic activities and any return to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East but has never publicly acknowledged having such weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said he would meet with Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Friday.

Earlier this week, Israel accused Iran of stealing classified documents from the IAEA and using them to deceive international inspectors nearly two decades ago.

It released what it said were some of the documents in question. Iran has dismissed the allegations as lies.

Israel was a staunch opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal and welcomed the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the agreement, which caused it to collapse.

The Biden administration has been trying to renew the accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for limits to and oversight of its nuclear programme.

Iran has always said its nuclear activities are for purely peaceful purposes but has stepped up uranium enrichment after the collapse of the nuclear accord to near weapons-grade levels.

US intelligence agencies, western nations and the IAEA have said Iran ran an organised nuclear weapons programme until 2003. Neither the US nor Israel have ruled out the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Updated: June 03, 2022, 6:03 AM
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