Europeans push for Iran rebuke at nuclear watchdog over inspections

VIENNA/PARIS (Reuters) – Major European powers want to admonish Iran at the U.N. nuclear watchdog over its ongoing refusal to give access to inspectors at sites suspected of activities that may have been part of a nuclear weapons programme, a draft resolution showed.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the seat of Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ahead of a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued two reports this year rebuking Iran for failing to answer questions about nuclear activities almost two decades ago before its 2015 nuclear deal at three sites and for denying it access to two of them.

A draft resolution, seen by Reuters and dated June 10, put forward by Britain, France and Germany calls on Iran to cooperate fully and promptly with the IAEA.

It asks Tehran to provide access to the locations specified and implement obligations under the Additional Protocol, referring to texts governing the IAEA’s mission and activities.

“The Europeans couldn’t sit back and not do anything,” a Western diplomat said.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons programme that it halted in 2003. Israel’s obtaining of what it calls an “archive” of past Iranian nuclear work has, however, given the IAEA extra information on Iran’s previous activities.

“If the three countries take such steps, Iran will have no other choice but to react accordingly,” Iran’s IAEA representative Kazem Gharibabadi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The IAEA has also reported that Iran remains in breach of many of the restrictions imposed by its nuclear deal.

Iran began breaching the accord after the United States withdrew in May 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

Britain, France and Germany, which remain in the deal, have accused Iran of violating the terms of its 2015 agreement, but hope to persuade Tehran to reverse course rather than join a U.S. maximum pressure campaign it imposed since withdrawing from the accord in 2018.

Russia and China, the other participants in the deal, are likely to oppose the resolution. It would be put forward this week at the IAEA board of governors meeting for approval either by consensus or a vote.

The COVID-19 outbreak has complicated the process with the 35 countries meeting virtually. Some member states, including Russia, have said decisions should be made when a physical meeting can take place.

Reporting by John Irish and Francois Murphy; Editing by Giles Elgood

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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