The world’s nuclear inspectors complicated President Trump’s effort to find Iran in violation of the two-year-old nuclear accord with the United States and five other world powers, declaring on Thursday that the latest inspections found no evidence that the country is breaching the agreement.
Mr. Trump has made no secret of his desire to scrap the agreement, even over the objections of many of his top national security officials. But the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency make it harder to create an argument that Iran is in violation.
The latest declaration by the I.A.E.A. came just a week after Mr. Trump had sent his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, to Vienna to meet with the top agency officials, who are responsible for conducting the inspections and monitoring Iranian compliance.
Ms. Haley was pressing the agency to be more aggressive, and some administration officials have argued that the I.A.E.A. should demand access to a series of Iranian military sites. But under the accord, the agency can only do so when there is a reasonable suspicion that Iran is conducting illicit nuclear-related activities at those sites.
So far, according the I.A.E.A. and American officials, the United States has not delivered a list of suspect locations.
Ms. Haley, who is rumored in Washington to be a leading candidate to become secretary of state if the incumbent, Rex W. Tillerson, steps down later this year or next, made no comment on Thursday on the report’s findings. But she issued a statement that suggested that the administration would push the inspections argument further, despite an Iranian declaration several days ago that its military sites are off-limits.
“If inspections of Iranian military sites are ‘merely a dream,’ as Iran says, then Iranian compliance with the J.C.P.O.A. is also a dream,” she said, using the initials for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran deal.
Iran welcomed the latest report as vindication. The official Islamic Republic News Agency republished the report’s main findings and said they “may come as a surprise to the U.S. administration.”
In its quarterly report, the I.A.E.A. found that on the second anniversary of the deal, which was struck in Vienna by John Kerry, then the secretary of state, and his Iranian counterpart, Iran’s supply and enrichment level of uranium fuel were well within the allowed limits of the agreement. Iran’s supply of heavy water, used in reactors that can produce plutonium, another nuclear-weapons fuel, also was within the limits, the report stated.
Iran was required to dismantle the one reactor it was building that would be capable of producing large amounts of bomb-grade plutonium, and it poses no threat.
The findings, which were released to member states of the agency and quickly leaked, were hardly unexpected. And while they make it difficult politically for Mr. Trump to justify scrapping the agreement, which he has called a “terrible deal” that he would have negotiated more skillfully, it does not preclude his own finding that Iran is in violation.
In fact, Mr. Trump has several options to choose from.
One is to simply scrap the existing accord, declaring that while Iran is in compliance with the letter of the agreement, it has violated the “spirit’’ by continuing to test missiles, finance groups the United States considers terrorist organizations and operate in Syria and Iraq. The deal itself dealt only with Iran’s nuclear activities, but Mr. Trump has said that was not enough to contain what he has called a growing Iranian threat. Continue reading.