Why was the IAEA’s latest Iran report released now?

The timing of the recently released IAEA report about Iran is curious, especially considering its content which analysts agree is mostly “not new.” It has nevertheless been made public at a time when tension between the U.S. and Iran is high and the U.S. is pushing for more sanctions against Iran. Why?

The IAEA is supposed to be a neutral body, but a 2009 WikiLeaks cable featured in the Guardian shows that the U.S. strongly approved of IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano, specifically because of his approach to Iran, which he emphasized would be different than Mohamed ElBaradei’s.

In a meeting with Ambassador on the eve of the two-week Board of Governors (BoG) and General Conference (GC) marathon of mid-September, IAEA Director General-designate Yukiya Amano thanked the U.S. for having supported his candidacy and took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded Ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77, which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran‘s alleged nuclear weapons program.

This is the U.S.’s initial assessment of him:

9. (SBU) Comment: By the time he departed Vienna with the GC’s confirmation of his appointment, Amano appeared comfortable in his “Director General” shoes. He speaks with increasing confidence and clarity, having mastered his talking points and grown accustomed to his new title. Apprehensions linger among IAEA staff and diplomatic missions regarding his communications and leadership abilities, but with his performance during the GC he made progress in winning over skeptics. His wisdom in downplaying Japanese visibility among his senior advisors will also assuage staff fears that Amano would subvert the Agency with a Japanese corporate management style. On a grander stage, Amano’s global political savvy was clearly in evidence, and his willingness to speak candidly with U.S. interlocutors on his strategy and various balancing acts bodes well for our future relationship. For example, his description of President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit as the biggest event of his early tenure was a deliberate and gratifying gesture.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.