The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) denounced an “unprecedented” gesture. Several of its inspectors responsible for monitoring the Iranian nuclear program have had their accreditation withdrawn by Tehran, announced Saturday September 16.

“Today, the Islamic Republic informed me of its decision to withdraw the designation of several experienced inspectors from the Agency,” Director General Rafael Grossi wrote in a statement. With this measure, which comes after another recent case, “Iran has removed a third of the central group” of experts, which “directly and drastically affects” the ability of the IAEA to carry out its mission and guarantee the peaceful nature of nuclear activities, he regrets.

If it is theoretically permitted by the agreements linking the Agency to Iran, this unilateral decision is “disproportionate and unprecedented”, insists Mr. Grossi. It is “another step in the wrong direction” and “deals an unnecessary blow to an already tense relationship”, he believes, calling on the government to “review its position” and “rectify the situation”.

For more than two years now, the IAEA has struggled to control Iran’s nuclear program, which continues to gain momentum although Tehran denies wanting to acquire an atomic bomb.

“Iran’s deliberate refusal to collaborate”

The Islamic Republic explained that it had taken this measure in response to the warning launched this week by the United States and the European countries of the E3 group (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), during the Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, headquarters of the IAEA.

Faced with Iran’s “deliberate refusal to collaborate with the Agency”, they threatened a new resolution. If Tehran “does not implement the essential and urgent actions” required, the Council “must be prepared to take other measures,” the quartet warned.

For now, Western powers have stuck to a “joint declaration” supported by around sixty countries, urging Iran to “act immediately” to resolve disputes with the IAEA. A position deemed unacceptable by the Iranian government.

“Unfortunately”, the E3 and Washington “have abused the space of the Council for purely political purposes”, accused in a press release the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, insisting on “the need for neutrality of the Agency”.

The Islamic Republic has gradually freed itself from the commitments made under the 2015 agreement known by the acronym JCPOA, in reaction to the withdrawal of the United States decided in 2018 by President Donald Trump. This pact was supposed to limit Iran’s atomic activities in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions. Discussions held in Vienna by the various stakeholders to revive it failed last year.