"Regrettably, the report does not reflect the realities of the talks between Tehran and the IAEA," said Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh at a televised presser May 31.
Khatibzadeh was addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency's latest assessment on Iran's nuclear program, released on Monday. The watchdog's report to its board of governors pointed out lack of progress in getting Iranian authorities to remove longstanding ambiguities over the presence of nuclear particles at three undeclared sites and possible military dimensions of the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities.
However, to the Iranian side, the new report lacks "fairness and balance" and was drafted "with haste." Iran also fears that "pressure from Zionists and certain activists has diverted" the IAEA's technical mission, turning it political.
Back in March, upbeat IAEA chief Rafael Grossi visited Tehran, where he convinced Iranians to accept a three-month road map on clarifying allegations of military dimensions. But Tehran's answers have not been credible, according to the report. A separate IAEA report found that Iran augmented its stockpile of 60%-enriched uranium, now at 43.1 kilograms, much more than the limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Western powers worry this material could make imminent an Islamic Republic equipped with atomic bombs.
The IAEA report was met with furious criticism from Iran's hard-line news outlets. Tasnim news agency branded the watchdog assessment as a "political statement" in favor of Israel. Tasnim called the document a "bullet" fired at the JCPOA revival diplomacy, which has been stalled since March due to "remaining differences" between Iran and the United States.
IRNA, the official outlet representing President Ebrahim Raisi's government, criticized the nuclear watchdog for its "unconstructive" approach and for "wasting yet another chance" that could have resolved its differences with Tehran. it said the assessment "carries assumptions fabricated by the Zionist regime … and has already triggered anti-Iran speculation and heated debates ahead of the board of governors meeting."
Centrist and moderate-leaning Iranian analysts were convinced that the new report was nothing to celebrate. "Given the current circumstances, and even assuming Chinese and probably Russian support [for Tehran], it is likely that the board will pass a resolution against Iran," said pro-Reform pundit Hassan Beheshtipour in an interview with Khabar Online.
"If we fail to reach an agreement this time, bitter developments will await our country," tweeted Tehran-based journalist Amir-Reza Nazari.
Last week, US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley cast doubt on the chances of a deal with the Islamic Republic, further sparking speculation about the potential collapse of the JCPOA talks.
Reacting to Malley's stance, Khatibzadeh blamed the ongoing pause in the negotiations on Washington's refusal to take up initiatives from Iran and Europe. He said, "If the US gives up on hesitation and makes a political decision, there would diffidently be no deadlock, and even the remaining sections of the agreement will be sorted out."