UN Nuclear Watchdog Censures Iran for Lack of Cooperation

UN Nuclear Watchdog Censures Iran for Lack of Cooperation
UN Nuclear Watchdog Censures Iran for Lack of Cooperation

The UN nuclear watchdog's board censured Iran for failing to fully cooperate with the agency, calling on Tehran to provide answers in a long-running probe and reverse its decision to bar several experienced UN inspectors.

Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned the move as political. The censure followed an IAEA report last week that Iran has further increased its stockpile of uranium enriched near weapons-grade levels.

The vote by the 35-member IAEA board in Vienna sets the stage for a likely escalation of tensions with Iran, which has reacted strongly to previous resolutions. Twenty countries voted for the resolution put forward by France, Germany and Britain, while Russia and China opposed it.

The resolution calls on Iran to implement a March 2023 joint statement pledging to resolve issues around sites where inspectors have questions about possible undeclared nuclear activity and allow more IAEA monitoring.

Inspectors found traces of processed uranium at two sites near Tehran. The IAEA has urged Iran to provide "credible" answers about the origin and location of this nuclear material to assure its program is peaceful.

While reduced from four to two sites since 2019, the lingering questions have been a persistent source of tensions. The resolution states the IAEA chief may need to prepare an updated assessment if Iran continues not to cooperate.

The IAEA last censured Iran in November 2022, prompting it to start enriching uranium to 60% purity, just short of weapons-grade. Iran also previously removed IAEA cameras and barred inspectors over resolutions.

Tensions have steadily grown since the 2018 US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions in exchange for enrichment limits.