Iran’s UN ambassador has expressed concerns about secretive nuclear activities by Saudi Arabia and Israel, calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, to adopt an “unbiased” approach towards both regimes.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi made the remarks at a virtual meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that endorsed the IAEA’s annual report.
He said it is “of utmost importance” for the IAEA to consider available information on Riyadh’s nuclear activities, adding, “If Saudi Arabia is seeking a peaceful nuclear program, it should act in a very transparent manner and allow the agency’s inspectors to verify its activities.”
Additionally, he noted, the IAEA needs to take “an unbiased and professional approach” toward Israel, which has refused to adhere to the agency’s safeguards, is not a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons.
Referring to Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA, Takht-Ravanchi said Iran alone accounts for 22 percent of all the agency’s inspections even during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Iran and the agency have agreed to work in good faith to resolve these safeguards-related questions,” he stressed.
In late August, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited Tehran, where he held talks with Iranian officials over safeguards implementation issues.
The two sides then issued a joint statement and said they had agreed “to further reinforce their cooperation and enhance mutual trust to facilitate” the full implementation of Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) and the Additional Protocol (AP) thereto, which has been provisionally applied by Iran since 16 January 2016.
To help facilitate the resolution of the issues raised by the agency, the statement said, Iran agreed to voluntarily provide the IAEA’s inspectors with access to two locations specified by the nuclear watchdog.
In a speech to Wednesday’s General Assembly meeting, Grossi welcomed the agreement he reached with Iranian officials in August “on implementation of some safeguards implementation issues,” including access to the two sites.
“Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran continue,” he said, adding that inspections have taken place and samples from the two locations are being analyzed.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian envoy underlined the important role of nuclear energy in economic and social development of countries.
He also stressed that the IAEA is tasked with promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and strengthening international cooperation in this regard.
The Islamic Republic has achieved significant achievements in using the nuclear energy in the fields of electricity generation, medicine, agriculture and industry, Takht-Ravanchi said.
He said Iran believes that the IAEA’s safeguards should not violate the countries’ rights to peaceful nuclear activities and that proliferation concerns should not restrict these rights, and that any attempt meant to limit the peaceful use of nuclear energy must be rejected.
The Iranian ambassador further described the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as an important multilateral achievement that enjoys strong international support, warning that the agreement is under intense pressure from Washington’s unilateral measures.
“The United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA, re-imposition of illegal sanctions against Iran and non-compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2231 have prevented the Islamic Republic of Iran from enjoying its rights under the resolution,” he noted.
Iran showed the peaceful nature of its nuclear program to the world by signing the JCPOA with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia China — in 2015. The accord was also ratified in the form of a UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
The US, however, unilaterally pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and re-instated unilateral sanctions against Tehran despite objections from the other signatories and the entire world community.
Tehran remained fully compliant with the JCPOA for an entire year, waiting for the co-signatories to fulfill their end of the bargain by offsetting the impacts of Washington’s bans on the Iranian economy.
As the European parties failed to do so, Tehran moved in May 2019 to suspend parts of its JCPOA commitments under Articles 26 and 36 of the deal covering Tehran’s legal rights.