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Iran will respond firmly to any ‘unconstructive move’ at IAEA meeting: FM Spox

The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on May 23, 2021. (File photo by Reuters)

Iran has warned to respond strongly and proportionately to any “unconstructive move” at the upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a day after dismissing the UN nuclear watchdog's latest report on its nuclear program. 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in a statement on Wednesday asserted that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful and it will "naturally respond strongly and appropriately to any unconstructive move” at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, which will be held on June 6.

“Those who regard the Board of Governors and the director general’s report as leverage and tools of political games against Iran are responsible for the consequences,” he said.

The meeting comes as a pause in the marathon negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran deal enters its third month, with prospects described by Washington as “tenuous at best” while Iran blames the US and its three European allies – France, Britain, and Germany – for failing to act constructively.

Under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran accepted certain caps on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

The US, however, unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions despite Tehran’s full compliance with its share of obligations.

With the prospects looking bleak, the US, France, Britain, and Germany are now reportedly pushing the UN nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors to rebuke Iran for failing to answer key questions on so-called uranium traces, shifting the blame on Tehran amid their failure to honor commitments.

The IAEA board “calls upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfill its legal obligations and take up immediately the [IAEA] director general’s offer of further engagement to clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues,” said a draft text sent to IAEA member states and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran warns France over ‘meddlesome’ remarks

The IAEA stated in a report on Monday that Iran had not provided explanations in relation to the long-standing questions about the origin of alleged uranium particles at three sites.

France’s deputy foreign ministry spokesman, Francois Delmas, said the following day that Paris was “deeply concerned” by the report, urging Iran to “respond without delay to the questions and needs of the IAEA under its safeguards agreement.”

“Despite the involvement of the director general and the repeated opportunities Iran has had in the course of nearly three years to shed light on the undeclared presence of nuclear materials at undeclared sites, the agency believes it is still unable to clarify these matters.”

In response, Khatibzadeh said such “hasty comments” which totally disregard Iran’s constructive technical collaborations with the IAEA are “meddlesome” and “worthless.”

He further said Tehran advises Paris to avoid taking meddlesome stances that would derail the Iran-IAEA cooperation from its correct path.

Instead, the Iranian diplomat went on, Paris needs to “fulfill its own safeguards obligations with regard to nuclear disarmament and also hold the Israeli apartheid regime, which has hundreds of nuclear warheads, to account.”

‘Time for E3/US to stop pretending to be asleep’

The spokesman also suggested that Israel might be behind the well-recognized psychological warfare waged against the Islamic Republic through such remarks.

In similar comments on Tuesday, Khatibzadeh raised concerns that the political pressures exerted by Israel may have pushed the IAEA’s report to shift its focus away from technical matters and toward political issues.

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Khatibzadeh noted that Israel, as the world’s number one “JCPOA hater,” happens to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We know this. The world knows this. Time for E3/US to stop pretending to be asleep,” he wrote. “They can pursue diplomacy—or pursue the opposite. We’re ready for both.”

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