UN Watchdog Says Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal Only Exists ‘On Paper’

According to Rafael Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the previous president, Barack Obama, “exists only on paper and means nothing.” Congress was never asked to ratify the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Opponents of the pact claimed that Iran had cheated from the beginning, and in 2018, Israeli intelligence uncovered papers demonstrating that the Iranian leadership had surreptitiously broken the accord’s non-proliferation obligations.

In May 2018, the US withdrew from the JCPOA under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who stated that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. Trump was right. The JCPOA was supposedly still enforceable against Iran and the European countries who signed it, but since Trump left, Tehran has essentially ignored the accord.

For the past several years, Grossi has been working to keep the nuclear agreement afloat. He has been critical of Iran’s stubbornness on many occasions, but he has refrained from making any remarks or taking any concrete steps that might infuriate Iran to the point that it would no longer cooperate with his agency. Before the head of the IAEA ran out of patience with Tehran, the European signatories to the JCPOA did. Early in June, the IAEA board voted 20–2 to condemn Iran for obstructing nuclear inspectors; the only votes opposing the decision came from China and Russia.

Grossi said that Iran is not currently informing his organization about its intentions to spin up more sophisticated centrifuges for uranium. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog are continuing in talks about how to carry out an agreement made last year to increase the number of inspections of the country’s rapidly developing atomic program.

The Biden administration threatened to impose sanctions on Russia in February 2023 for helping Iran with plans to expand the Bushehr nuclear power project. A subsidiary of Russia’s state-run Rosatom Corporation is building two additional reactor units; construction on the second reactor began in 2023. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran declared on April 8 that it intended to proceed with building a third unit at the Bushehr reactor.

Moscow is expected to collect over $10 billion from the expansion of Bushehr while continuing its aggressive battle against Ukraine.