Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has warned that U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Nikki Haley’s visit to Vienna is aimed at undermining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J.C.P.O.A.) – the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers two years ago. In a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) Director-General Yukiya Amano, Zarif asked the international watchdog not to disclose any sensitive and secretive information about Iran’s nuclear activities to Haley or any other third party. Fars News Agency published full text of the letter today.
“While U.S. officials are free to visit Vienna or anywhere else and the Agency also has the right to meet with difference individuals, the purpose of this visit as publicized raises serious concerns regarding further violation of the text and spirit of J.C.P.O.A. and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231. This time, it could also undermine the credibility of the Agency, which is of vital significance to the non-proliferation regime in general and to J.C.P.O.A. in particular,” the letter said. At the end, Zarif expressed confidence that Amano and his team will “deal with this trip and any other similar attempt with professionalism and sincerity.”
In a similar letter, the top Iranian diplomat has also called on E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to share Iran’s concerns about Haley’s visit and the Trump administration’s plan to “weaken” the J.C.P.O.A. with other members of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Commission, a group that monitors the implementation of the J.C.P.O.A. and the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 which endorsed it. He accused the Trump administration of violating the spirit and text of the nuclear accord.
Comment: The top U.S. diplomat at the U.N. arrived at the I.A.E.A. headquarters in Vienna on earlier today to assess whether Iran is in complete compliance with the J.C.P.O.A. and also raise Washington’s concerns about Iran nuclear-related activities, particularly Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Prior to her today's meeting with Amano, Haley had also said that the Trump administration wants to know if the I.A.E.A. planned to inspect Iranian military sites to ensure Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. "If you look ... at past Iranian behavior, what you've seen is there have been covert actions at military sites, at universities, things like that," she told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. "There were already issues in those locations, so are they including that in what they look at to make sure that those issues no longer remain?" she said. "They have the authority to look at military sites now. They have the authority to look at any suspicious sites now. It's just are they doing it?"
Iranian leaders have ruled out giving international inspectors access to their sensitive military sites. “They (inspectors) would not dare to come to Iran, and will not get access to the military centers at all, because they are part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s security sphere,” Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the head of the Strategic Research Center of Iran’s Expediency Council, said on August 5. The former Iranian foreign minister added that the United States is no longer a world super power to dictate its wishes on other nations. His comments came after the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration was pushing for inspections of Iranian military sites to test the usefulness of the nuclear deal Tehran signed with the United States and five other world powers two years ago.
On August 7, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) Aerospace Division, was also asked about the Trump administration’s plan to push for a more intrusive and regular inspection of Iranian military sites. “The answer is clear. We will not give them such a permission,” he replied.
On July 27, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration was pushing for inspections of “suspicious Iranian military sites” to test the usefulness of the nuclear deal. Since then, Iranian officials have responded angrily to the report and have ruled out any such inspections. This is despite the fact that Tehran had agreed under the Additional Protocol of the nuclear accord that it would provide United Nations inspectors with limited access to any site suspected of illicit nuclear activity.
Since President Donald Trump took office in January, tension between Washington and Tehran over the latter’s missile program and support for terrorism has escalated significantly. The Trump administration has levied new sanctions on Iran and Trump has hinted at the possibility of walking away from the deal. Trump and critics of the nuclear deal argue that the accord does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and destabilizing role in the region, and add that its loopholes also provide Iran a pathway to acquire nuclear weapons in the future. Iranian officials have emphasized that Tehran is not willing to renegotiate the nuclear agreement.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Tehran would restart the country’s nuclear program within hours if the U.S. government imposes additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the Iranian media reported. “America’s new statesmen should know that the failed experience of sanction and coercion brought their previous administrations to the negotiating table. If they are inclined to repeat that experience, we will return to a more advanced situation than the pre-negotiation one – not in a matter of weeks and months, but within hours and days,” Rouhani said in a speech to the Iranian Parliament as he was introducing his new cabinet nominees.