UN Chief Nuclear Inspector Abruptly Resigns As Iran FM Embarks On Global Tour To Salvage Deal

Just days after President Trump announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal brokered under Obama, the U.N.'s top nuclear inspector has abruptly and unexpectedly resigned after a tense week in which Iran's facilities have again become the focus of the organization's mission. 

Veteran nuclear weapons inspector Tero Varjoranta announced his resignation as chief inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) effective May 11th but didn't provide explanation, only citing "confidential personal matters" according to the AP.

Tero Varjorantadeputy (pictured furthest left), director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, sitting next to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Image source: IAEA

Varjoranta, a Finn, served for five years as a deputy director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards, which verifies countries’ compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The AP further reports:

Varjoranta, who was in the role for almost five years, will be replaced temporarily by Massimo Aparo, an Italian nuclear engineer who was most recently the agency’s top inspector for Iran.

The move comes just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord designed to keep Tehran’s atomic weapons program in check.

The Vienna-based IAEA is the U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog which coordinates in tandem with U.N. decisions and directives, and hasn't been shy in stating it's official position of finding no evidence showing Iran to be in breach of the nuclear deal.

Tero Varjoranta in 2014. Image via AFP/Getty

Indeed the very day after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's televised speech claiming "evidence" that Iran is actually hiding an active nuclear program, the IAEA issued an assessment directly negating Israel's claims, firmly asserting that there are "no credible indications" supporting the charge of a continued illegal Iranian nuclear weapons program after 2009. Netanyahu has long maintained Israel's position that the nuclear deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it,” and has sought all available means to dismantle it.

According to the AP summary of that IAEA assessment:

The U.N. nuclear agency says it believes that Iran had a “coordinated” nuclear weapons program in place before 2003, but found “no credible indications” of such work after 2009...

The documents focused on Iranian activities before 2003 and did not provide any explicit evidence that Iran has violated its 2015 nuclear deal with the international community.

Though IAEA leadership is now being tight-lipped about the sudden transition in leadership — notably not a single among the dozens of international press articles have given any hint as to the specifics — the past week has brought intense pressure to bear on the U.N. mission which ensures Iran's compliance to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) terms.

The original brokers still backing the deal include the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and Germany — all signatories — with Germany, France, and Russia specifically warning this week that US withdrawal could further destabilize the Middle East. 

This warning already seems to be materializing with Syria/Iran and Israel exchanging rocket fire this week, and as all signs point to further escalation.

* * *

Meanwhile, Tehran has repeatedly affirmed its position that the existing terms of the JCPOA are non-negotiable.

In what's being widely described as a last-ditch effort to salvage the deal Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has this weekend embarked on a tour of global capitals. On Saturday Iran announced the initiative on orders from President Hassan Rouhani for FM Zarif to visit European countries, China and Russia in the coming weeks to negotiate ensured continuance of the deal.

President Rouhani said, “If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from... [the nuclear accord] the deal would remain."

Iran is seeking to protect its economy from aggressive impending new US sanctions, especially key sectors like oil, which many analysts say can survive and flourish so long as European countries uphold their end of the agreement, in spite of the US now threatening sanctions against countries that continue to deal with Iran. 

Likely the other five signatories will continue to honor the deal, but it will be interesting to see which European powers eventually cave under US pressure, at which point they might only pay lip service to the terms of the agreement while gradually rolling back economic and tried ties with Iran.

No doubt both Israel and the United States are even now behind the scenes maneuvering to make this happen — a likely reason for IAEA chief inspector Tero Varjoranta's shock resignation in the first place. 

But meanwhile in Tehran, the clerics look preoccupied with other things at the moment...

Will Zarif's international lobbying efforts save the deal in spite of US withdrawal? The coming weeks will tell, unless war breaks out first.



Stuck on Zero revolla Sat, 05/12/2018 - 20:43 Permalink

If Iran were truly innocent, as they claim, then they would invite Israeli inspectors to come on over for an inspection tour along with hundreds of news reporters from all over the world. If the Israelis couldn't find anything it would look terribly bad for them and the U.S. The fact that Iran isn't doing this makes one suspicious.

In reply to by revolla

bowie28 Algo Rhythm Sat, 05/12/2018 - 20:39 Permalink

Or maybe what he has been saying for the past few years was the lie, in exchange for a a slice of all that cash that was flown in when the deal was signed?

Time to GTFO before the questions start being asked.

We all know the history of the US lying to start wars BUT there is also a >0% possibility that the Obama admin and the Iranians are not pure as the driven snow and may be hiding something.  They sure are acting like they don't want anyone digging into the details of this deal.

In reply to by Algo Rhythm

11b40 American Snipper Sat, 05/12/2018 - 21:32 Permalink

You have been here got over a year and have ask that question?  Slow learner, right?

To start with, there are not very many Nazis here, but there are a lot of folks who have studied the issues with a historical perspective.  In addition, most expressing anti-Israel sentiments are not so much anti-Jew as anti-Zionism, and very much anti-neocon.  So when you factor in being lead into war by these vampires, and you mix in a little understanding of who controls most of the money in the world, you start to realize just how badly this country has been screwed.....and continues to be.

Just a very short and incomplete explanation for someone who will likely never make the effort to learn, but will still snipe.

In reply to by American Snipper

bowie28 Lost in translation Sat, 05/12/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

So if US is really about to invade Iran using this JCPOA as the excuse, why are the Iranians so insistent that it is "non-negotiable"?

Surely they have seen what has happened to other regimes that take a hard line with the US when they are targeted.

Why not take the position that they do not want any war and will at least at least discuss this with Trump and see what he is asking for?  Doesn't that take away his excuse for attacking them?  or at least buy them a little time while the discussions are going on?

Just seems odd that they are not even willing to listen to his demands or discuss any of this.



In reply to by Lost in translation

bowie28 Oxbo Rene Sat, 05/12/2018 - 21:39 Permalink

That's not my question.

If we accept your premise that Trump wants to invade them just for the oil and he is using JCPOA as the excuse.

AND Iran does not have nukes and has nothing to hide and has already agreed to inspections.

THEN - why will they not even engage in a discussion about this to prove Trump is wrong?  Demand UN meetings to discuss?

At a minimum it would buy them time.  Why take a hard line, refuse to even listen to Trump's proposal and basically dare him to attack them?

Then you have Merkel, Macron, Obama, Kerry and the gang all scrambling to keep a lid on this.  These are not people who give a fuck about people in the ME dying.  What are they really so worried about?

People are acting very suspicious.   Now a UN inspector is running for the hills.   A lot of cash was moved when this got signed.    Who got it and what were they being paid off for in relation to an agreement for no nukes in Iran?

There is something we have not yet been told about this and a lot of people are getting very nervous about it. 


In reply to by Oxbo Rene

XWeatherman bowie28 Sun, 05/13/2018 - 06:15 Permalink

Not having nukes, like Libya, etc. makes Iran vulnerable to U.S. War Crimes of Unprovoked War of Conquest (destruction and chaos) as was Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Syria, etc.

U.S. Government will make up some crap to falsely justify war to feed it's ravenously greedy Military Industrial Complex Death Merchants.  It has no morality nor sense of sovereignty.

The NeoCons who run U.S. foreign policy actions work under the delusion that history / destiny has chosen the U.S. socio-economic system to rule the world using any means available including the murder of more millions of people.  This delusion is not dissimilar to the NAZI delusion about their "race" which granted them the same rights and obligations. The NeoCon delusion is not dissimilar to the Zionist delusion that a covenant by their god with Israel grants them the right / obligation to murder the men, women & children of their neighboring countries to steal their neighbors' lands. The Israeli delusion is very similar to the segment of the NAZI race-based delusion referred to as Lebensraum.

In reply to by bowie28

not-me---it-wa… bowie28 Sun, 05/13/2018 - 04:21 Permalink

doesn't really matter what trump is asking for.

he starts with unreasonable demands, that could never be agreed to. but let's say for sake of argument, iran meets to discuss, then accepts.  what happens next?  trump makes even more outrageous demands.

that's the idea.  as long as the iranians refuse, the entity-controlled media portray them as extremists.

for 'zample......following the head nazi's wile e. coyote presentation, how many commentators questioned why the "free world" is taking orders on non-proliferation from an apartheid country, a NON-signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, with an active nukular weapons program, with 200-400 illicit nukes already mounted on missiles or submarines, with active chemical and biological programs, non-signatory to those relevant conventions, actively conducting cyber-warfare, actively conduction assassination programs in foreign countries, actively ethnically cleansing occupied territories, supporting terrorists in sovereign nations, using chemical weapons on civilians......

In reply to by bowie28

el buitre Lost in translation Sat, 05/12/2018 - 21:41 Permalink

As the Saker points out in detail, the Russian forces in Syria are too small to withstand an all out FUKUS missile attack.  The mission that Putin assigned them was to give air support to the SAA against the Cabal's proxy headchoppers and take out their fleet of oil tankers, moving crude through Turkey into Israel.  It was never designed to withstand an all out attack by FUKUS against it.  The Cabal will not try a land invasion of Iran.  You would see 30,000 body bags flown into Dover AFB the first two months.  The American people are not ready to accept those kinds of casualties.  Many are fed up with doing Israel's fighting.  The attack would be strictly aerial bombardment.  Iran can shut down the Persian Gulf and reach the Saudi oil processing plants with its missiles.  $250 a barrel oil anyone?  Qatar's recently purchased 19% stake in Rosneft could well turn out to be a bonanza.  Of course Russia is still holding the other 81%.

In reply to by Lost in translation