Iran Blocking Sites Access: IAEA | 16 Jun 2020

Why in News

In two unreleased reports, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed serious concerns after Iran has been blocking inspections of two suspect locations for more than four months.

Key Points

  • Although IAEA did not publicly name these sites, it held that Iran's enriched uranium stockpile has exceeded the agreed limit.
    • According to the IAEA, Iran may have used the sites for processing and converting uranium ore in 2003.
  • Iran denied the reports and hinted that queries were based on fabricated information from intelligence services.
    • Iran has always denied that it has ever sought to develop a nuclear weapon, insisting that its programmes have been peaceful.
  • It comes amid rising tensions between Iran and the USA, which pulled out of the 2015 international agreement.

Iran Nuclear Program and JCPOA

  • In 2015, Iran with the P5+1 group of world powers - the USA, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme.
  • The deal was named as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and in common parlance as Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of sanctions and access to global trade.
  • The agreement allowed Iran to accumulate small amounts of uranium for research but it banned the enrichment of uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.
  • Iran was also required to redesign a heavy-water reactor being built, whose spent fuel would contain plutonium suitable for a bomb and to allow international inspections.
  • In May 2018, the USA abandoned the deal criticising it as flawed and reinstated and tightened its sanctions.
    • The USA held that it would attempt to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil and put pressure on Iran to negotiate a new nuclear accord.
    • The top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (the commander of the Al-Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC) was assassinated by the USA during his visit to Iraq. This escalated tensions in the international arena.
  • Amid rising tensions, Britain, France and Germany declared that Iran was violating the 2015 pact and launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council and the reimposition of UN sanctions.
  • Since sanctions were tightened, Iran has been steadily breaking some of its commitments to pressure the remaining signatories to find a way to provide sanctions relief.

Way Forward

  • All countries part of the 2015 deal should engage constructively and resolve all issues peacefully and through dialogue.
  • Both the USA and Iran must act with strategic restraint as any crisis in West Asia will not only affect the region as a whole but will have a detrimental impact on global affairs as well.

Source: TH