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The International Atomic Energy Agency says that it no longer has access to monitoring devices keeping track of activity at a key site in Iran that manufactures centrifuge parts. This prevents the watchdog agency from assessing vital advances in centrifuge technology that could lead to a nuclear breakout by Iran in a matter of weeks.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi says that since the new fanatical Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, took power, his agency has had no communication with Raisi or the Iranian foreign minister. Iran has also denied the agency the ability to hold snap inspections and has interfered with the ability of the IAEA to service the monitoring equipment used by the agency. Rossi says the nuclear monitoring program in Iran is no longer “intact.”
“I have never spoken to the new foreign minister,” Grossi says. “I hope to be able to have the opportunity to meet with him soon because it’s very important … so when there is a problem, when there is misunderstanding, when there is a disagreement, we can talk about it. I used to have it before, and I would assume it that I would be the normal thing.” Grossi spoke during a visit to Washington as the fate of the Iran nuclear deal hangs in the balance, with world powers urgently urging Iran to return to negotiations to restore the deal and the U.S. saying time is running out.
Although Grossi says he had “no indication” that Iran is currently racing for a bomb, he says the world needs look no further than North Korea to understand what’s at stake. IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in 2009, and the country is now believed to have dozens of nuclear warheads.
The significance of having no monitoring agreement is that it makes going back to restart the 2015 nuclear deal impossible.
“It hasn’t paralyzed what we are doing there, but damage that has been done, with a potential of us not being able to reconstruct the picture, the jigsaw puzzle,” Grossi says. “If and when the JCPOA will be restarted, I know that for the JCPOA partners to go back to an agreement, they will have to know where they are putting their feet.”
Iran knew all this before denying access to monitoring equipment and refusing to cooperate with snap inspections. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has apparently decided that war with Israel is inevitable.
Israel’s problem is that it must strike soon or lose any hope of stopping the Iranians. One or two small nuclear devices detonated over Israel would have catastrophic consequences. Once Iran proves to the world that it is a nuclear power, Israel’s options to stop the Iranians narrow considerably.
Israel’s window to act is closing, and they know it. Iran knows it too. With Iran not having any intention of limiting or ending their nuclear program, it’s hard to see how a major conflict can be avoided.