The United Nations' nuclear watchdog said Thursday that Iran continues to comply with the terms of a 2015 nuclear pact, despite the United States' withdrawal from the deal and renewed sanctions that have contributed to an economic crisis.
The International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Tehran is complying with restrictions on its enrichment of uranium and uranium stocks in addition to other provisions, according to a confidential IAEA report reviewed by the Associated Press and Reuters on Thursday. It is the 12th consecutive report affirming Iran’s adherence to the deal that President Trump formally rejected in May by withdrawing from it and reimposing sanctions on Tehran.
Trump has long been a critic of the deal and repeatedly pledged to abandon it during his presidential campaign. His administration said reneging on the nuclear accord was designed to pressure Iran into dropping its support of militant groups, reining in its ballistic missile programs and improving its human rights record.
A first batch of sanctions targeting Iran’s trade in precious metals, car parts and other smaller imports — in addition to prohibiting its use of U.S. dollars — went into effect this month, provoking an exodus of international firms from Iran and contributing to a dramatic decline in the value of Iran’s currency.
The historic collapse of the rial has caused prices of everything from food to air travel to soar and has resulted in shortages of medicines, heaping pressure on the administration of President Hassan Rouhani. His signature achievement was the signing of the nuclear accord and its promise of opening Iran to the world economy; now the unraveling of that accord has focused a harsh light on his leadership and resulted in the dismissal of two key economic ministers by parliament.
In November, a second round of U.S. sanctions banning the import of Iranian oil, a critical source of income for Tehran, will take hold and is expected to further contract the nation’s struggling economy. The United States has told allies in Asia and Europe that it expects them to also reduce imports of Iranian oil to zero, threatening secondary sanctions on international companies that defy the demand.
Some American allies, notably India, have balked at reducing or stopping oil purchases from Iran.
It remains unclear whether the IAEA report will aid efforts by the deal’s European signatories — Germany, France and Britain — to save it amid punishing American sanctions. But both Iran and European nations have signaled that maintaining the terms of the accord as they are is unlikely.
On Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Iran must be willing to expand discussions in order to salvage the deal and answer for its ballistic missile program and its role in Middle Eastern conflicts, according to Agence France-Presse.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday that he doubts Europe will be able to rescue the accord and that Iran may abandon it.
On Thursday, he again expressed his vehement opposition to the possibility of talks with Washington -- a prospect that Trump has raised. Khamenei’s series of tweets appeared to quash speculation about a meeting between Trump and Rouhani on the sidelines of next month’s U.N. General Assembly in New York.