Iranian Nuclear Cycle: Demands And Crises Coincide
Having earlier rejected 38 IAEA inspectors and refused entry to them in protest of the UN Security Council’s sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Iran has now also demanded the removal of the IAEA’s lead nuclear inspector, Chris Charlier, as well. Last year, Iran had made a similar demand of the IAEA regarding the removal of Charlier as head of the IAEA inspection team. Iran seeks his removal because of his views that Iran “is obviously making a bomb” and is operating clandestinely beyond the view of IAEA inspectors.
In the PBS Frontline report ‘Iran – Going Nuclear,’ Charlier detailed his experiences dealing with, as he puts it, Iran’s “games” surrounding its dealings with IAEA inspectors. The footage and interviews were recorded before Iran demanded his removal last year. (The PBS transcript is available here.)
The response from IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to Iran’s demand last year was murky at best. While there was speculation that ElBaradei had actually acquiesced and fired Charlier at Iran’s behest, he remains today but is still barred from entry and personal observation by the Iranian regime. That the IAEA director’s response to last year’s Iranian demand was not in clear support of his lead inspector has left may believing that ElBaradei’s loyalties reside somewhere outside the work of his own inspection team, and speculation and suspicion of Charlier’s possibly diminished role as lead inspector remains.
Iran claims that Charlier has “leaked Iran’s confidential information which should have been kept secret” and has barred 38 additional inspectors in recent days “who refuse to do their main and legal jobs and carry out unprofessional measures,” the state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Even while Tehran continues to insist that the UN Security Council sanctions have minimal effect on the Iranian nuclear program or economy – a view echoed by Western critics of sanctions viewed as ‘light’ – the regime continues to protest them and make threats based on the sanctions’ existence and implementation.
As the UN Security Council’s 60-day deadline for Iran to cease enrichment activities fast approaches, eyes are on Iran’s actions elsewhere, including the rapidly increasing violence in Lebanon as the result of Hizballah’s ongoing protests, an open coup seeking to bring down the elected Lebanese government. Last year’s Hizballah attack on Israel, which instigated the summer war between the Jewish state and the Iranian-supported terrorist group, was seen by many as an Iranian and Syrian initiated distraction from the Iranian nuclear crisis and the investigation of Syrian involvement in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. At the time of the Hizballah attack into Israel, deadlines approached within the UN Security Council regarding both crises.