New IAEA chief to take “firm, fair” stance on Iran
The incoming head of the UN atomic watchdog said Monday he will take a “firm and fair” approach toward inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and plans to visit Tehran in the near future.
Argentine diplomat Rafael Mariano Grossi’s comments came after he was confirmed as the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously at a special session. His four-year term begins today, AP reported.
The 58-year-old succeeds Yukiya Amano, who died in July. Grossi became Argentina’s ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA in 2013 and was previously the IAEA’s chief of cabinet under Amano.
Iran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) pledged economic incentives in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program. The IAEA’s role has been to inspect and verify Iran’s compliance with the deal.
With the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement last year and the reimposition of new American sanctions, Iran’s economy has been struggling. So far, the other nations involved – France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – have been unable to offset the effects, and Iran has slowly been scaling back its commitments to the JCPOA.
Tehran is, however, continuing to provide IAEA inspectors access to nuclear plants under the JCPOA.
Grossi told reporters he expected to travel to Iran himself in the “relatively near future” to meet with Iranian officials.
“It is really a priority,” he said of the situation in Iran, adding that his philosophy on inspection safeguards was to be “firm and fair.”
Those “two guiding principles” apply not just to Iran, but to how the IAEA deals with everybody, though “different cases demand different approaches,” he said.
“An inspector is not a friend. He’s someone who comes and needs to ascertain the facts without bias, without agenda, in an objective and impartial way,” Grossi said. “This has to be done in firmness, but in fairness as well.”
Despite Washington’s withdrawal, Tehran remained completely compliant with the JCPOA for an entire year as confirmed by the IAEA in several reports, waiting for the co-signatories to fulfill their end of the bargain by offsetting the impacts of the sanctions.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the international deal, in defiance of global criticism, and later reimposed the sanctions that had been lifted against Tehran as part of the agreement.
In response to the move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the sanctions.