The head of the UN atomic watchdog, Rafael Grossi, said this Friday that Iran’s nuclear program is “galloping ahead” while the IAEA has no clear picture of what Tehran is doing.
Speaking with Spain’s El Pais newspaper in an interview this Friday, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi expressed concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
He noted that the IAEA hasn’t been able to get enough information on the latest developments on Iran’s nuclear activities; “The bottom line is that for almost five weeks I have had very limited visibility, with a nuclear program that is galloping ahead and, therefore, if there is an agreement, it is going to be very difficult for me to reconstruct the puzzle of this whole period of forced blindness,” Grossi said, adding also that “it is not impossible, but it is going to require a very complex task and perhaps some specific agreements.”
Following the IAEA’s resolution against Iran’s nuclear program back in June, the Islamic Republic began removing monitoring over 20 cameras installed under the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But everything started with America’s former President Donald Trump deciding to pull out the US from the JCPOA back in 2018, reviving harsh sanctions against Iran. After Trump’s controversial act in violation of the nuclear deal, Iran also resorted to a number of retaliatory moves. For example, it was in December 2020 that Iran’s parliament approved a bill that would suspend U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities and require the government to boost its uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions.
Grossi also noted in his interview that “the agency needs to reconstruct a database, without which any agreement will rest on a very fragile basis, because if we don’t know what’s there, how can we determine how much material to export, how many centrifuges to leave unused?”
How true are the concerns about Iran’s nuke activities?
Iran is now enriching uranium up to 60 percent, which although is not close to weapons-grade in number (90 percent enriched uranium is required for building a nuclear bomb), it technically means that Iran is now easily capable of producing weapons-grade uranium if it wants to do so.
Last week on Sunday, Iran’s Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in warning language that the country “is on the nuclear threshold and this is not something secret,” asserting that Tehran does have the capabilities to build a nuclear bomb but it just doesn’t want to materialize the potential. “Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one,” Kharrazi insisted.
Similarly, Mohammad Javad Larijani, a former high-ranking official in Tehran spoke of Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. “If Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, no one can stop it,” he said last Sunday.
Many experts believe that these remarks suggest Iran might have an interest in nuclear weapons. But the fact is that the above words were a reaction to President Biden’s comments while in the region, promising to stop Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapon.” It is therefore naïve to think of the words mentioned above by Iranian officials as Iran’s declaration of interest in developing nuclear bombs. This is true, especially considering the illegality of nuclear weapons in the eyes of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.