UN nuclear watchdog holds special meeting on Iran

The UN nuclear watchdog on Wednesday held a special meeting on Iran after the Islamic Republic announced its second breach of the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

It prompted criticism from the Iranian president, who said the focus should be firmly on US policies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors held talks in Vienna at the request of the US, which abandoned the 2015 pact last year and began imposing strict sanctions on Tehran, diplomatic sources told Efe news.

The convening members are not expected to adopt any resolutions on this occasion, although they could agree on a joint statement calling on Tehran to backtrack on its decision to breach the deal and expand its nuclear programme, which it decided to do as a response to US sanctions.

Germany, France, Britain and the European Union on Tuesday called on Iran to return to the full commitment of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, took issue with the meeting’s agenda.

“It isn’t necessary for you to be worried about Iran, your concern should be with the US, which has shot down the JCPOA and has undermined all of its commitments,” he told members of the cabinet in a weekly meeting.

He described the meeting as laughable, given it was the US that pulled out of the accord and levelled sanctions against Iran.

His Foreign Minister, Mohammad JavadZarif, said it was impossible to negotiate “under pressure” and called on the US to end its campaign of “economic terrorism against Iran.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal – which bore the signature of his predecessor Barack Obama – in May 2018.

He then reactivated sanctions against Tehran and drew up new ones squeezing its oil and banking sectors.

Rouhani marked the anniversary of Trump’s decision by announcing that Iran would start to ignore some of the stipulations in the deal if the remaining signatories failed to keep their commitments and offset US sanctions within the next 60 days.

On Monday, the Vienna-based IAEA confirmed that Iran had exceeded the limits on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel in nuclear reactors or to make atomic bombs. According to the deal, Tehran had to sell off any amount of uranium that surpassed the 300 kg restriction.