U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley met officials at a key nuclear inspections agency Wednesday, drawing a rebuke from Iranian officials.
Haley met with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria to discuss "monitoring and verification efforts and Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal," according to a summary of the meeting. But Iranian officials argued that the meeting undermined "the independence and credibility" of the inspectors and warned the IAEA not to share extra information about the regime's nuclear program.
"Any contribution to the destructive approach of the US Administration to undermine ‘successful implementation' of the [nuclear deal], or sharing any information on Iran and its nuclear activities, which is not included in regular updates that Director General provides to the IAEA Board of Governors, with any third party including the U.S. government's envoy will not be in conformity with the above-mentioned provision," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to the IAEA.
That letter was sent last week, but only released publicly on Wednesday, which coincided with Haley's visit to the agency. She emphasized the need for the IAEA to have broad access to Iranian facilities, according to the State Department.
"IAEA reports can only be as good as the access Iran grants to any facility the IAEA suspects of having a nuclear role," the meeting summary noted. "They also discussed the importance of preventing Iran from exploiting ambiguous language in the nuclear agreement. Ambassador Haley reiterated the United States' determination to ensure the IAEA has the resources it needs for robust verification of nuclear-related activities in Iran."
But Zarif accused Haley of trying to corrupt the IAEA's inspections and effectively break the nuclear pact. "[T]his visit, with the stated purpose to ‘press the Agency', is widely perceived by the international community as a manifest and blatant attempt by a Permanent Member of the Security Council — openly hostile to the JCPOA and determined to undermine and destroy it — to put pressure on the Agency and adversely affect the professional and impartial nature of the work of the IAEA," Zarif wrote.
The Trump administration has certified Iran's technical compliance with the deal, but protested missile tests and "unprofessional" confrontations between Iranian forces and the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf. Lawmakers in both parties, meanwhile, are particularly concerned that the Iranians are ramping up their support for Hezbollah, a terrorist group in Lebanon.
"In deed and in propaganda, Iran foments discord," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in April. "The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran."