VIENNA – The United Nations nuclear watchdog has urged Iran to improve its cooperation and allow access for international inspectors to its facilities.
The International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution on Friday in Vienna calling on the country to fully cooperate with the implementation of safeguarding agreements and protocol.
It is the first resolution against Iran since 2015 and the IAEA’s director general Rafael Grossi expressed “serious concern” over Iran’s lack of cooperation with disarmament inspectors.
The latest IAEA report, debated this week at a board meeting, criticizes Iran for denying inspectors access to two facilities for four months.
The resolution was adopted on Friday with the backing of 25 of the 35 countries represented on the board of governors at the IAEA.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s representative to the IAEA, said on Twitter that his country and China voted against the resolution, which was proposed by Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
“While stressing the need for Tehran and IAEA to settle this problem without delay, we believe that the resolution can be counter productive,” he tweeted.
Grossi told reporters after the vote that he hoped the move would not impair Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear agency and that he would have preferred the resolution to have been adopted unanimously.
“There is no other way than to sit down and talk and gain access by working with Iran,” he said, adding that he hoped Tehran would answer the remaining questions.
“It is very clear that the sooner we are granted access and that our inspectors are able to do their jobs again, it will be better for everyone,” he continued.
Traces of fissile materials have been found at two facilities that could come from nuclear, possibly military, experiments conducted 15 years ago and that Iran has never declared, according to the IAEA.
Grossi criticized Iran in his report for spending almost a year without being involved in the IAEA’s efforts to answer questions about possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities.
Tehran has said that it works closely with the IAEA and its nuclear program is the most closely watched in the world.
It also said that part of the IAEA’s doubts were based on information provided by secret services, referring to Israel, which are not public, valid or verifiable.
The IAEA has rejected the statement that its findings were based solely on information received from member states and said it studies and validates any evidence it investigates.
The criticisms are related to a safeguarding agreement between Iran and the IAEA and not with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Tehran and six major powers setting out limitations on the country’s nuclear program, to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
An anonymous diplomatic source close to the situation said Germany, France and the UK were trying to “find a complex balance between taking a step to increase pressure on Iran but not as radical as the United States would like.”
Washington supported the resolution and described it as “a fair and balanced reaction to Iran’s alarming actions” but has also made clear it would have preferred a tougher stance.
US President Donald Trump decided two years ago to abandon the treaty that was negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Tehran responded by breaching its nuclear fuel production and storage limits a year ago and the type of machinery allowed under the JCPOA.
European signatories of the agreement have tried to keep the deal afloat by offering Iran mechanisms that partially compensate for the US sanctions, which mainly affect its vital oil exports.
Russia and China, also signatories to the JCPOA, have openly blamed Washington for the escalating tension and voted against the resolution on Friday.