Transcript: World Stage: Ukraine with Rafael Mariano Grossi (Excerpts)

March 24, 2022

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


The Washington Post

Related Country: 

  • China
  • Russia
  • Ukraine


MR. IGNATIUS: So this is a very helpful summary of an urgent issue. I want to turn in the time we have remaining seven minutes or so, Mr. Director General, to the issue of Iran and the Iran nuclear agreement.


MR. IGNATIUS: The IAEA has been a kind of crossroads for that negotiation now for many years. This week, the Iranian foreign minister said that a new nuclear deal with Iran and the United Nations Permanent Representatives was closer than ever before, was the language he used. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the deal was neither imminent nor certain. So, we have a difference of opinion, seemingly. What is your own judgment as someone who observes this process closely? Do you think based on what you know that the basic elements of a new deal are close and could be achieved soon?

MR. GROSSI: The elements are there as far as--you know, there are elements that fall within the purview of the IAEA and where we have an indispensable necessary role, which is being the guarantors, the inspectors of everything that is going to be agreed. This is why we have been doing, you know, more than observing. We have been accompanying, providing technical advice and support and--until the moment our inspectors start their work.

There is also--there's obviously another part of this that that has to do with sanctions, that has to do with designations of groups and individuals, that has nothing to do with my--with my work. It’s pure political, bilateral between the United States and Iran, and by impact now, hearken back to Ukraine, now with the issue of sanctions, an added layer of complexity has been present when Russia, as you know, has raised the issue of the sanctions and secondary sanctions that might be affecting the implementation of some of this.

So, I'm not saying this not to give you an answer. I can give you a very clear, straightforward answer. For the nuclear side, I think everything is in order, by and large, to move forward. I must say, though, when I mentioned this, that that is apart from the JCPOA a number of pending issues that Iran has with us. You may have seen that I was in Tehran a few days ago. I was talking to Foreign Minister Mr. Abdollahian; the president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mr. Eslami, and other officials there about this, because it is obvious that you need to have a clear view of what is going on there in order all the--everything and all processes move forward in a--in a coherent way. I think the elements are there. One could not deny that if some of these remaining issues were solved, that would be a possibility to go back to it.

In terms of the characterizations, of course, I wouldn't have an opinion of how the United States characterizes it. I only can refer to the facts. And the fact is as I see them, what I said.

MR. IGNATIUS: So the--we heard you say the elements of a nuclear agreement are there. But there's concern about Russia, in effect, evading sanctions by doing nuclear deals, business deals with Iran, if I understand it. Is there any way that your agency is seeking to resolve that issue?

MR. GROSSI: Not those ones, because we--as you know, sanctions and secondary sanctions are very--you know, it's a national prerogative that one of the signatories, or parties--in this case the United States--may or may not wish to exercise. And Russia is asking questions because, as you know, the JCPOA has--it’s a very complex agreement here, as you know, very technical. It has a side which is related to controls and to limits and to inspections, but it has an incentive part at the same time in the minds of the creators of the JCPOA. There were these issues, including some activities where JCPOA partners would be helping assisting Iran in conducting their peaceful nuclear activities in a way that would not be conducive to nuclear derivations. And for this in the--in the order of things of the JCPOA, originally it was considered that China and Russia would be helping out Iran with some of these activities, and these activities that now appear to be touched or affected in some way by the sanctions. So, the IAEA as such, unless these sites would ask us to mediate or do something about them, but I don't--it's beyond our competencies. It's a commercial law problem that needs to be solved.

MR. IGNATIUS: So, we have just a minute left, Mr. Director General, and I want to ask a final question. Based on what you've seen so far, are you confident that if the agreement whose elements appear to be in place was finally adopted, the IAEA would be able to monitor Iranian compliance with that agreement so that you could assure the world that the limits were not being violated?

MR. GROSSI: I would. Of course, I am. But I need to say one thing. The JCPOA that we are going to have to be monitoring now will be more complex than the one that was originally signed in 2015. As you know, from 2015, to now, and in particular, from 2018, when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, Iran started gradually to cease its implementation of these checks and prohibitions. So now you have an Iran that produces uranium metal. Now you have an Iran that has developed the most sophisticated centrifuges. Now you have an Iran that is enriching uranium at 60 percent, which is, in every practical sense, almost military level. So, more facilities are there in place. So, we will have our work of reconciling facts, figures. Going back to baseline is going to be huge. But of course, the IAEA, as always, will be there, and we'll be able to tell it as it is.