Iran, IAEA Dispute Terms of Access Agreement; US Threatens Action

No clear understanding on access covers Karaj site

Disagreements on the fringes of a statement of understanding are threatening to damage Iran-IAEA working arrangements, with both sides trading angry statements, and the US threatening action against Iran.

Earlier in September, the IAEA and Iran came to an understanding on access to nuclear sites to perform maintenance on equipment. This is working well at all the sites except one, the centrifuge manufactury in Karaj.

The statement was not specific on which sites would be accessed, and the IAEA is assuming it meant all of them. Iran has argued that the site is not a site of nuclear activity as such, and didn’t intend to include it.

This has the IAEA declaring Iran to be in violation of what was realistically a non-binding joint statement in the first place. Iranian officials say they think the IAEA should’ve worried more about Israeli attacks on the sites, endangering IAEA equipment and personnel, and maybe should’ve said something when that happened. They also say the IAEA shouldn’t feel so entitled to access.

The EU and US are both calling on Iran to let the IAEA access Karaj for maintenance. The IAEA could use such access, as Israel attacked that site, and damaged some of their equipment. Iran says not letting them in just now is a political decision.

The US is demanding Iran give up immediate access or face “diplomatic retaliation” at the IAEA in a few days. Iran probably isn’t going to do that just because the US demands it, and the US was threatening to condemn Iran at the IAEA at any rate, this likely doesn’t read as a major new threat.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.