While the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi will arrive in Tehran this Friday to hopefully resolve nuclear-related issues, Washington once again imposed new sanctions on Iran.
This Friday, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi will arrive in Tehran to discuss nuclear-related issues with Iranian officials. Topics for discussion will probably include recent progress in Iran’s nuclear activities as well as the potential revival of Iran’s nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The fourth visit by Grossi to Tehran since he took office in late 2019 comes at a time when nuclear talks between Iran and other JCPOA members have been in a stalemate for a while.
Despite years of good cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, things changed after the Trump administration decided in 2018 to pull the US out of the nuclear deal and re-impose even more crippling sanctions against Iran. this is while the whole purpose of the JCPOA in the first place was for the West to relieve economic sanctions against Teheran and for Iran to limit its nuclear program.
After the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, which was indeed a violation of the UN Security Council 2231, Iran also decided to hit back and reduce its nuclear commitments under the deal in a step-by-step manner, beginning to employ more advanced centrifuges and increasing its level of uranium enrichment.
However, despite the progress in its nuclear activities, Iran has always denied any intention to use its nuclear know-how to build a nuclear bomb, something that the west, especially the US, doubts. This Tuesday, an IAEA report revealed that Iran had made considerable progress in its enrichment to 83.7%, which is very close to the 90% purity rate needed for developing a nuclear bomb.
Reacting one day later, Mohammad Eslami, the Iranian atomic chief, did not dismiss the claim, according to comments carried by Iran’s state media. However, he noted that the inspectors’ data was based on a tiny sample “even invisible to a microscope” and said, “What counts is the volume of the stored uranium.”
Iran, for its part, has accused the IAEA for years of being a puppet for the United States, its European allies, and Israel while drafting its inspection reports about Iran’s nuclear program.
Washington is still the biggest hurdle in the path
In the path of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the United States seems to still be the biggest hurdle. To read between the lines, while Grossi is on his way to Tehran to hopefully find a way to revive the almost-dead JCPOA, Washington just ruined his efforts very well in advance. The Biden administration announced a batch of new sanctions this Thursday, a day before Grossi’s visit to Tehran, targeting Iran’s energy exports.
The sanctions were imposed against six shipping companies and petrochemical manufacturers as well as 20 affiliated shipping vessels. According to the US State Department, the designated firms, which are located in Iran, China, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates are accused of easing the transport or sale of Iranian oil or petrochemical products.
“These designations underscore our continued efforts to enforce our sanctions against Iran,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday, adding that Washington “will not hesitate to take action against those who try to circumvent our sanctions.” Less than a month ago, the US Treasury Department also announced sanctions against nine entities it said were involved in “producing, shipping and selling Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum to buyers in East Asia”.