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US steps up anti-Iran lobbying campaign at IAEA after UNSC defeat

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, (L) meets with the IAEA's Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in the Austrian capital Vienna on July 1, 2020.

Having failed to convince the UN Security Council (UNSC) to extend an arms embargo on Iran, the United States is stepping up a lobbying campaign at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in line with its push to kill the 2015 nuclear deal and put more pressure on Tehran.

The US State Department said in a statement that Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, met with IAEA's Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in the Austrian capital Vienna on Wednesday “to discuss the IAEA’s verification work in Iran and express full support for the Agency’s professionalism and objectivity.”

According to the statement, Hook also met with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg “to discuss the expiration of the UN arms embargo on Iran” in October under the 2015 nuclear deal, which is endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

Iran “must comply with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, and Additional Protocol by providing the IAEA with the information and access required under its agreements,” the statement said.

Grossi posted a picture of his meeting with Hook on Twitter, saying the two had discussed Iran’s compliance with the IAEA’s safeguard regime.

In the published image of Grossi and Hook, the two are seen standing close together despite social distancing measures globally designed to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Reacting to Hook’s meeting with Grossi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi called on the UN nuclear watchdog to observe the principle of impartiality and professionalism in the IAEA.

In an ironic tweet on Wednesday, Araqchi told Grossi, “You would better keep both social and political distancing.”

The IAEA push comes after Washington’s appeal for the extension of arms ban on Iran fell flat at the Tuesday meeting of the UNSC, where Russia and China rejected it outright and close allies of the United States reminded the US that it was no longer a party to the nuclear deal to seek an extension of the UN ban.

Prior to the UNSC session, the US had successfully lobbied the IAEA’s Board of Governors to pass an anti-Iran resolution based on fabricated information sourced by the Tel Aviv regime despite Tehran’s numerous warnings for the agency not to fall under US and Israeli influence.

The US-backed resolution — drafted by France, Britain and Germany — urged Iran to “fully cooperate” with the IAEA and “satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay,” including by providing “prompt” access to two nuclear sites.

Tehran rejected the resolution and slammed the three European parties for giving in to American pressure and drawing up such a resolution contrary to their claims of commitment to the Iran deal.

The resolution was passed while the IAEA’s 129-page 2019 Safeguards Implementation Report shows Iran had received the biggest part of the inspections that were carried out worldwide by the atomic organization last year. 

In line with the US campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran, Hook has been on extensive trips to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the occupied territories since Monday.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has threatened that it may seek to trigger a “snapback” of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the arms embargo fall through.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said Wednesday that Washington would press the UN Security Council to vote on the extension as soon as mid-July and is willing to reinstate wide-ranging UN sanctions against Iran if that effort fails to yield result.

The American official, however, admitted that Russia, backed by China, will put up a strong fight against Washington and may exercise a veto.

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