The Trip Iran Didn’t Want Nikki Haley to Take

U.S. ambassador to UN traveling to Vienna to discuss Tehran's nuclear activities

Nikki Haley,

Nikki Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations / Getty Images


Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, warned that an upcoming trip to Vienna by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to discuss Tehran's nuclear activities with international atomic watchdog officials goes against the spirit of the landmark nuclear accord.

In a letter addressed to senior officials at the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN watchdog group, Zarif said Haley's intent "to press" the IAEA on Iran's compliance "flies in the face" of the deal that sharply limited Tehran's ability to produce nuclear material in exchange for the lifting of most U.S. sanctions.

Zarif said the Trump administration designed the trip to sew doubt among the accord's signatories and private companies regarding the pact's stability and future sustainability in an attempt to undermine the agreement.

"Even before the visit takes place, the way it is planned and publicized and the signal that it sends have notable detrimental consequences for the successful implementation of the JCPOA," he wrote, using the acronym for the deal.

"This is another example of ‘mala fide' on the part of the U.S. government, with the aim of limiting Iran’s benefits from the deal; a constant practice of various agencies and instrumentalities of the United States … which has continued to be exacerbated even in a more grave and manifest manner during the current administration," he continued.

The State Department announced last week Haley will visit the IAEA headquarters in Vienna in the coming days "to discuss … the extent of Iran's nuclear activities." The Trump administration has not released further details on the impending visit.

Citing an unnamed U.S. official, Reuters reported the trip is part of the Trump administration's ongoing policy review of Iran's compliance to the deal.

The accord tasks the IAEA with monitoring adherence by all the countries involved in the deal. Agency officials are required to act independently and protect uncovered sensitive information to maintain credibility.

Zarif said Haley's trip threatens to violate the deal's mandate for confidentiality regarding commercial, technological, and industrial secrets, as well as any information on Iran's nuclear activities not included in the regular public updates by the IAEA director general.

"Regrettably, this visit … is widely perceived by the international community as a manifest and blatant attempt by [Haley]—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.

Haley's trip follows threats from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to withdraw from its nuclear agreement with the United States, Russia, China, and three European powers "within hours" if the United States continued to impose new sanctions. Rouhani said recently enacted sanctions targeting Iran's ballistic missile program violated the deal.

Haley said the sanctions were separate from the deal and were instead imposed "to hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions."

Trump recertified that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal in July. The deal is again up for recertification in October. If Trump rejects certification, the accord will be scrapped and the administration can reapply sanctions that were suspended under the pact.

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson   Email Natalie | Full Bio | RSS
Natalie Johnson is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she was a news reporter at the Daily Signal. Johnson’s work has been featured in outlets such as Newsweek, Fox News and Drudge Report. She graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in political science and journalism. She can be reached at Her twitter handle is @nataliejohnsonn.

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