[JURIST] The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] on Friday condemned Iran for violating its duties under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) [text, PDF], a negotiation between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia, whereby Iran has agreed to expand its nuclear program peacefully. The IAEA claims a UN report shows that Iran may have violated [Reuters report] the agreement by failing to expand studies of more efficient models of a machine used to refine uranium. This causes concern because the development of more efficient models could allow Iran to produce nuclear bomb material several times greater than that produced with the current machine. The agency requests that Iran answer its inquiries regarding the failed expansion, in order to ensure that the country can be trusted to develop its nuclear program in a peaceful manner.
Over the past several years Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program, although some commentators doubt the efficacy of such sanctions [JURIST op-ed]. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes [JURIST report], but the international community, Israel in particular [JURIST op-ed], worries that Iran’s enrichment program was designed for military purposes. In October the General Court temporarily removed sanctions [Times of Israel report] against Iran’s main oil tanker firm NITC [corporate website]. In late December Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif [official website] announced [JURIST report] that Iran and the six world powers of P5+1 [BBC news archive] are set to resume low-level talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on January 15.