IAEA Director-General Warns “Fatal Blow” to Agreement Could Be 3 to 4 Weeks Away
For Immediate Release: June 10, 2022
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107
(Washington, D.C.)—Experts from the Arms Control Association strongly urge President Joseph Biden to immediately redouble efforts to break the stalemate on talks to restore compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned that efforts to restore the JCPOA will face a “fatal blow” within three to four weeks, after Iran announced June 9 that it was disconnecting certain cameras monitoring key nuclear facilities.
“President Biden clearly supports a restoration of mutual compliance with the JCPOA as the best way to roll back Iran’s potential to produce bomb-grade nuclear material and maintain more stringent International Atomic Energy Agency oversight of Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities,” noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “And it is.”
“Unfortunately, the Biden administration has not treated the growing crisis, which was triggered by former President Trump’s irresponsible withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, with the necessary degree of urgency it deserves,” he charged. “In the wake of new disturbing developments, however, the White House must take immediate action.”
This week, Iran disconnected 27 cameras monitoring key nuclear facilities in retaliation for an IAEA Board of Governors resolution urging Iran to cooperate with the agency on its investigation of undeclared nuclear materials from the pre-2003 nuclear weapons program. The IAEA risks losing its continuity of knowledge about Iran’s nuclear activities—which is necessary for restoring the JCPOA—if the cameras remain disconnected for more than 3-4 weeks, Grossi warned June 9.
“A deal to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA is on the table and could be quickly implemented—if the United States and Iran move away from hardline positions on the non-nuclear issue blocking agreement: whether and under what conditions to lift a U.S. foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.
“It is past time for both sides to resolve that impasse and finally deliver on what is in the interest of all sides: an agreement to restore compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal,” she said.
“The Biden Administration continues to argue that it is up to Iran to accept the deal or negotiate over the IRGC designation. But it is a failure of leadership on the part of the White House not to announce it will immediately intensify diplomatic efforts to break the impasse on the issue. And blaming Iran, however emotionally or politically satisfying that may seem to be, doesn’t avert the imminent nuclear crisis and it doesn’t advance U.S. national security interests” Kimball said.
"Biden will pay a small political cost for lifting sanctions on the IRGC, but it pales in comparison to the enormous national and international security threat of a nuclear-armed Iran," Davenport said.
“Currently, Iran could produce enough nuclear material for a bomb in less than 10 days—a window so short Tehran’s actions may not be detected by international inspectors. Restoring the JCPOA’s limits on Iran’s nuclear program will significantly increase that margin to about six months, which provides the international community with enough time to take effective action to counter any Iranian move toward a nuclear weapon,” Davenport said.
“If President Biden fails to promptly conclude negotiations with Iran to restore the JCPOA, it would perpetuate the failed strategy pursued by the Trump administration and allow Iran to further expand its nuclear program and defy its safeguards obligations with the IAEA. Biden risks going down in history as the president that allowed Iran to reach the brink of a nuclear bomb. It is past time the United States doubled down on creative proposals to break the impasse,” she warned.