EghtesadOnline: One of four contenders for the top job at the UN nuclear energy body, Argentina’s Rafael Grossi, insisted that the organization must uphold the credibility of the global nuclear rulebook.
With Iran’s decision to reduce compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal causing alarm among western powers and their regional allies, Grossi said the best course of action is for the International Atomic Energy Agency to act as a neutral arbiter.
Argentina’s ambassador to IAEA also told The National in a recent interview in Vienna, Austria, on the sidelines of the organization’s 63rd general conference that it needed to act impartially over Iran’s policy on the deal’s implementation.
Some opponents of the deal have claimed that at times the agency has appeared too close to Tehran, becoming a defender of the agreement, Financial Tribune reported.
The accord, struck between Iran and China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the US, curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. However, the parties to the deal have failed to ensure Tehran’s interests, prompting it to take reciprocal action by curbing its commitments to restore balance to the landmark accord.
Grossi said he would try to battle any perception of bias when dealing with Iran.
The agency has been dealing with this in a satisfactory manner, the Argentine envoy said.
“This is an inspecting and auditing type of exercise that does not lend itself to opinion. We are there to ascertain, to check, monitor and verify, and tell it as it is, and I am extremely confident in that role,” he said.
“We are an instrument of transparency and we are an intelligent instrument of transparency.”
At its 63rd general conference, IAEA looked into the Iranian nuclear standoff, among other issues.
Tehran has exceeded the caps set on uranium enrichment in the deal three times since the US withdrew from the pact last year.
The latest announced step coincided with meetings between Iran and IAEA’s acting director general, Cornel Feruta of Romania, in Tehran this month.
Feruta is one of Grossi’s main rivals for the position of IAEA chief.
The Argentine said only Feruta could answer questions about what had happened with the delegation in Iran “in terms of substance or opportunity.”
Grossi said if he were elected, the UN agency would continue to report the facts as they appeared.
“These series of announcements from Iran are clear and the agency is supposed to report on what they see and what they check on site. If I am elected, I am obliged and I must interact with Iran," he said.
Grossi stressed that nuclear power, when used peacefully, could be a force for good in the Middle East.
A veteran of nuclear diplomacy, he was on Tuesday given strong backing by the US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, in his campaign to lead IAEA.
“Sounds like a perfect candidate,” Perry said at the general conference. But he stopped short of giving Grossi a formal US endorsement.
The Romanian was the right-hand man of former chief, Yukiya Amano, who died in July as he was preparing to step down from the position.
Feruta is regarded by agency insiders as a continuity candidate and a reassuringly familiar figure as the agency deals with significant challenges across the world.
Lassina Zerbo of Burkina Faso and Slovakia’s nuclear regulatory chief, Marta Ziakova, are also in the race for the job.
Grossi, who has secured the backing of the Latin American bloc and countries like India, met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, in what was considered to be another tacit endorsement from Washington.
The US has been increasing pressure on Tehran after withdrawing from the nuclear deal. It claimed that Iran was manipulating the agreement while carrying out ballistic missile tests and backing allied forces in regional conflicts.