Iranian Media Accuse IAEA of 'Colluding' With Tel Aviv as Grossi Visits Israel Ahead of Iran Meeting
Israel joined the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957, but did not sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and has not accepted agency safeguards on its nuclear activities. Iran, which is a member of the NPT and faces regular IAEA inspections and sanctions over its nuclear programme, has questioned this state of affairs.
Iranian media have intimated "collusion" between Tel Aviv and the IAEA over Director General Rafael Grossi's arrival in Israel for talks with senior officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
In a report on Grossi's trip on Friday, Iran's PressTV characterised it as blatant "Israel-IAEA collusion", and pointed out that "Iran has on many previous occasions cautioned the UN nuclear agency against allowing the Israeli regime to influence its independent mandate and decision-making".
Grossi, who landed in the country on Thursday night, with talks planned for Friday, made the trip just days ahead of the upcoming 6 June IAEA board of governors meeting, which is expected to discuss Iran, including the NPT safeguards agreement and the Islamic Republic's compliance with verification and monitoring measures. The visit also follows the release of a damning IAEA report this week on traces of nuclear material allegedly found at three undeclared Iranian nuclear sites.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh blasted the report as "unfair and unbalanced", and accused Israel of consistently attempting to "intervene" in the IAEA's initiatives, and of spying on as well as sabotaging the agency and providing it with forged documents.
On Wednesday, commenting on Prime Minister Bennett's allegations that Iran had stolen classified IAEA documents and used them to deceive inspectors, Khatibzadeh blasted Tel Aviv as the "world's #1" Iran nuclear deal "hater", an "NPT-denier and the only nuke possessor in the MENA region". He also urged the US and Europe to "stop pretending to be asleep" on Israel's alleged machinations.
The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have reportedly prepared a draft resolution which they will present at Monday's IAEA board of governors meeting rebuking Iran over the new IAEA report's findings, and demanding "immediate" cooperation to "clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues".
In his press conference Wednesday, Khatibzadeh warned that Tehran would "respond firmly and appropriately to any unconstructive action" by the board of governors.
Russian and Chinese officials have similarly warned Western powers against pressuring Iran, with Russian permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov expressing doubts that the Western-backed resolution would "be helpful for maintaining businesslike relations between Tehran and the IAEA" and helping to restore the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian expressed similar concerns. "China opposes relevant countries' pushing the IAEA board of governors to pressure Iran through adopting a resolution. Facts have proven time and again that pressuring does not help solve problems. It only increases tension and escalates the situation. The talks on resuming compliance with the JCPOA are currently at a crucial juncture toward conclusion. Being confrontational at the IAEA board of governors will only undermine the agency's cooperation with Iran and disrupt the negotiation process", Zhao said at a press conference Thursday.
Iran, the US, Russia, China, and three European powers have spent over a year negotiating the possible restoration of the JCPOA in talks in Vienna. The Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 2018. The talks reportedly reached an end stage with an agreement in sight this spring, but have since stalled, in part due to the Biden administration's refusal to lift his predecessor's designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on its "terrorism" blacklist. Tehran expressed indignation over the designation, pointing to the IRGC's exploits in fighting jihadist militias including al-Qaeda* and Daesh (ISIS)* across Syria and Iraq in recent years.
* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
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