A gas flare is seen near Soroush fields alongside an Iranian flag (File image) Image Credit: Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency has called out Iran’s practices in its quarterly nuclear safeguards report. As Tehran and the Big Powers try to revive their nuclear deal of 2015, the prospects don’t seem very good. And Tehran only has itself to blame.

The talks have stalled, and the government in Iran has used this time — when restrictions are absent — to ramp up its stock piles of enriched uranium.

According to the IAEA report accessed by several news agencies, Tehran has accumulated 43kg of uranium enriched to 60 per cent, a rise of 30 per cent in the last three months. The UN nuclear watchdog has said Iran’s stockpile had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in the 2015 deal, with total enriched uranium estimated at ‘3,809.3kg’.

Iran is continuing to work tirelessly towards a major expansion of its capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The report details the fact that Tehran has been trying hard to derail attempt to investigate uranium traces sampled at several undeclared locations.

Why is all this important?

Think of the good old dictum: Trust, but verify. IAEA oversight and monitoring is based on the fact that it is able to verify that what the countries are telling it is what they are actually doing. The well-grounded fear that Iran could be providing incomplete information flies in the face of this concept.

As things stand, information provided — about nuclear material and nuclear-related activities — cannot be verified by the IAEA. And that is a problem. It is a problem that the organisation will discuss when it meets on June 6 in Vienna. The meeting could conclude with Iran being referred to the UN Security Council for violating its obligations.

How has Iran responded to all this? By accusing the IAEA, of course. It said that the report was unfair and ‘did not reflect the reality of talks between Iran and the agency ... under pressure from the Zionists’.

To be accepted as a full-fledged member of the international community and as well as the region, Tehran knows what it has to do. It has to come clean on the nuclear issue. But also, it should change its policies, which have brought nothing other than hardships for its own population and violent chaos in the region.