‘Politicised Safeguards’: Iran–IAEA Contentions, Drivers and Policy Implications

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • September 2014

    This article examines Iranian contentions on three issue areas that exemplify the politicised nature of its interactions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These include access to military facilities, information credibility and the ‘nuclear activism’ of US-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Three drivers account for the emergence of such contentions: (1) multilateral and unilateral sanctions; (2) extended lack of progress at multilateral negotiating forums like the P5+1 and the E3/EU; and (3) organisational dynamics primarily related to the deterioration in Iran’s interactions with the IAEA in the aftermath of the election of Yukiya Amano as the IAEA Director General (DG). Changes in dynamics in one or more of these factors, on the back of changes in domestic political leaderships (primarily in the US and Iran) and consequent modifications in their respective policy positions, have led to mutually agreeable outcomes like the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). In the context of ‘politicised safeguards’ losing some of their edge in the aftermath of the JPOA, the article closes by briefly examining the prospects of the IAEA drawing a ‘broader [safeguards] conclusion’ for Iran amidst the significant challenges that still need to be addressed.