Iran enriching ‘worrying quantities’ of uranium, in further blow for nuclear deal: UN political chief

The United Nations

No progress has been made on the implementation of a high profile 2015 Security Council resolution (Resolution 2231), aimed at ensuring that Iran’s nuclear facilities be used only for peaceful purposes, in return for the lifting of sanctions, Rosemary Di Carlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefed the Security Council on Monday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), briefed Ms. DiCarlo, has reported that Iran intends to install new centrifuges at one of its fuel enrichment plants, and plans to produce more uranium enriched up to 60 per cent at another.

The agency, she continued, estimates that the country now has a total enriched uranium stockpile of more than eighteen times the allowable amount under the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), that was developed in the wake of Resolution 2231, including “worrying quantities of uranium” enriched to up to 60 per cent.

The IAEA’s ability to effectively monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities and ensure that they are being used for exclusively peaceful purposes – a core element of the JCPOA – is now compromised, said Ms. Di Carlo, by Iran’s decision to remove the agency’s surveillance and monitoring equipment.

“Against this backdrop, we once again call on Iran to reverse the steps it has taken since July 2019 that are not consistent with its nuclear-related commitments under the Plan”, declared Ms. Di Carlo, who also called on the United States to lift or waive its sanctions as outlined in the Plan, and to extend the waivers regarding the trade in oil with Iran.

‘Divergent views’ on Iran space vehicles and missiles

Ms. Di Carlo then turned to provisions in the Plan related to ballistic missiles and, in particular, two flight tests of space launch vehicles conducted by Iran in June and November of this year, and a new ballistic missile unveiled by Iran in September.

Information received by the UN about these objects reflected, said Ms. Di Carlo, “divergent views” amongst certain Member States – France, Germany, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States – as to whether those launches and other activities are inconsistent Resolution 2231.

Ms. Di Carlo announced that the UN has inspected cruise missile parts, seized by the British Royal Navy in international waters south of Iran, which they assessed to be of Iranian origin, which resembles parts seen in the debris of cruise missiles used by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2019 and 2022, and those seized by the United States in 2019.

The UN, she continued, has also received letters from Ukraine, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, concerning alleged transfers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), from Iran to the Russian Federation, in a manner inconsistent with Resolution 2231.

However, the Permanent Representative of Iran, she said, has denied that his country had supplied UAVs for use in the conflict in Ukraine; whilst the Russian Federation also expressed its serious concerns regarding the requests of these Member States.

In addition, continued Ms. Di Carlo, Ukraine, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have alleged that some of the UAVs transferred by Iran to the Russian Federation were manufactured by an entity on a list of individuals and entities who, under Resolution 2231, fall under targeted sanctions.

The political and peacebuilding chief declared that the UN is examining the available information and will report back to the Council, as appropriate, in due course.

Iran nuclear deal: a summary

  • What is the Iran nuclear deal? The 2015 “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), sets out rules for monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme, and paves the way for the lifting of UN sanctions.

  • Which countries are involved? Iran, the five members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, US), plus Germany, together with the European Union.

  • What is the UN’s involvement? A UN Security Council resolution to ensure the enforcement of the JCPOA, and guarantee that the UN’s atomic energy agency, the IAEA, continues to have regular access to and more information on Iran’s nuclear programme, was adopted in 2015.

  • Why is the deal at risk? The US Administration pulled out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions. In July 2019, Iran reportedly breached its uranium stockpile limit, and announced its intention to continue enriching uranium, posing a more serious proliferation risk. To date, the US has not rejoined the JCPOA.

UN News Release. More on this here.