Iran Skips UN Conference on Nuclear Energy in Abu Dhabi

Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers may hang in the balance, but you wouldn’t know it at the United Nations conference on atomic energy held Monday in the United Arab Emirates, The Washington Post reports.

Iran decided to skip the Abu Dhabi conference, leaving its seats empty as Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, avoided speaking about the nuclear deal at all in his address at the venue. Iranian officials did not respond to a request for comment to discuss their decision to avoid the conference.

Amano’s decision may have been tactical after visiting Tehran just the day before and telling journalists that Iran still honored the accord. The head of the United Nations atomic agency on Sunday said Iran was carrying out its commitments made under a landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

“As of today, I can state that the nuclear-related commitments made by Iran under the JCPOA (nuclear deal) are being implemented,” Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a Tehran press conference broadcast by state television.

Iranian officials and Amano also called for the commitment of all parties to Iran’s 2015 international nuclear deal.

On top of everything, a senior Iranian lawmaker announced that the parliament is set to mention 18 cases of breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in its third half-yearly report on the implementation process of the deal.

Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Spokesperson for the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said the draft document of the third biannual report on JCPOA implementation was read out at a recent meeting of the commission.

Both the UAE and neighboring Saudi Arabia remain highly suspicious of the nuclear deal, which saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for it limiting its enrichment of uranium. The two Gulf Arab countries say that new money flowing into Iran has aided its ability to back Shiite militias in Iraq and support embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Also sharing that suspicion is Israel, which sent a delegation to the nuclear conference. The UAE, like many Arab countries, does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and remains opposed to its occupation of lands Palestinians want for a future state.

Conference organizers asked journalists not to film the Israeli delegation. Israeli officials did not immediately return a request for comment. Their presence also nearly created a unique diplomatic conundrum, as conference organizers had seated them next to Iran.

The Iran nuclear deal, struck in 2015, now faces one of its biggest threats. President Donald Trump has declined to re-certify the deal, sending it to Congress to address.

Trump’s refusal this month to re-certify the agreement has sparked a new war of words between Iran and the United States, fueling growing mistrust and a sense of nationalism among Iranians. The European Union, Britain and other parties in the deal have all encouraged Trump to keep the accord in place.