Portman, Risch, Rubio: International Atomic Energy Agency Should Maintain Investigation into Iran’s Nuclear Activities

September 22, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Jim Risch (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi expressing concern regarding Iran’s demand to end the IAEA’s investigation into its undisclosed nuclear activities as part of JCPOA re-entry negotiations.

“Earlier this month, as negotiations were reaching their culmination, Iran demanded the IAEA permanently close its ongoing investigation into Iran’s unreported nuclear activities in order to move forward with the deal,” wrote the members. “As you know, when Iran deployed this tactic in 2015, the P5+1 capitulated in order to advance the JCPOA. By prematurely closing the IAEA’s investigation into probable ties between Iran’s nuclear program and its military, the international community enabled Iran to hide the intent and scope of its nuclear program, severely undermining the credibility of the body and our nonproliferation regime.”

“Since the IAEA opened its current inquiry in 2018, Iran has repeatedly blocked IAEA efforts to inspect and assess unreported and suspicious nuclear activity detected at numerous sites,” they continued. “To suggest closing this investigation without knowing the nature or extent of Iran’s nuclear activities, where the material in question is located now, or whether Iran is continuing such activities will again weaken the legitimacy of the IAEA and further embolden Iran to advance its nuclear program with impunity and outside the parameters of its international obligations.”

“Your leadership has been substantial and should be credited with restoring the credibility of the IAEA, in particular with regard to its work in Iran,” they concluded. “As you engage with the United States and other parties to the prospective nuclear agreement with Iran, we urge you to remain steadfast in your commitments that Iran provides honest responses regarding its nuclear program and is held to account for any wrongdoing under its international nuclear commitments.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Director General Grossi,

I write to express my concern regarding Iran’s demand to end the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigation into its undisclosed nuclear activities and to strongly encourage you to keep this inquiry open until Iran provides transparent responses regarding the sites, materials, and activities in question. 

The P5+1 group of countries – the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany – are on the verge of repeating past mistakes by signing yet another nuclear agreement with Iran.  Iran’s history of non-cooperation with IAEA investigations, its failure to adhere to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and its belligerent behavior during negotiations over this latest agreement have not prevented the United States and its European allies from making significant concessions during the negotiations.  Earlier this month, as negotiations were reaching their culmination, Iran demanded the IAEA permanently close its ongoing investigation into Iran’s unreported nuclear activities in order to move forward with the deal.

As you know, when Iran deployed this tactic in 2015, the P5+1 capitulated in order to advance the JCPOA.  By prematurely closing the IAEA’s investigation into probable ties between Iran’s nuclear program and its military, the international community enabled Iran to hide the intent and scope of its nuclear program, severely undermining the credibility of the body and our nonproliferation regime.

Now, Iran is again demanding we turn a blind eye to its nuclear ambitions.  Since the IAEA opened its current inquiry in 2018, Iran has repeatedly blocked IAEA efforts to inspect and assess unreported and suspicious nuclear activity detected at numerous sites.  As you noted at the IAEA Board of Governor’s March 6, 2022 meeting, Iran has “not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency’s findings at three undeclared locations.”  Your report also noted that Iran had not informed the IAEA “of the current location, or locations, of the nuclear material and/or of the equipment contaminated with nuclear material, that was moved from Turquzabad in 2018.”

These concerns remain outstanding.  To suggest closing this investigation without knowing the nature or extent of Iran’s nuclear activities, where the material in question is located now, or whether Iran is continuing such activities will again weaken the legitimacy of the IAEA and further embolden Iran to advance its nuclear program with impunity and outside the parameters of its international obligations.

Your leadership has been substantial and should be credited with restoring the credibility of the IAEA, in particular with regard to its work in Iran.  We find it unfortunate that this much pressure is being placed on you and your team regarding these negotiations.  As you engage with the United States and other parties to the prospective nuclear agreement with Iran, we urge you to remain steadfast in your commitments that Iran provides honest responses regarding its nuclear program and is held to account for any wrongdoing under its international nuclear commitments.   

Sincerely,

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