The speaker of Iran’s parliament said a three-month monitoring deal between Tehran and the UN‘s International Atomic Energy Agency has expired.
As a result, its access to images from inside some Iranian nuclear sites would cease.
“From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the (IAEA) agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement,” state TV quoted parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf as saying.
The International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran struck the three-month monitoring agreement in February to cushion the blow of Iran reducing its cooperation with the agency, and it allowed monitoring of some activities that would otherwise have been axed to continue.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is in talks with Iran about extending the agreement.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also spoke on the matter, saying that the issue was being discussed in Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and the result would be announced by either the council or the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
Underlining that the accord denies the IAEA access beyond safeguards agreements, the spokesman further explained that Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog agreed that cameras continue recording, but the agency wouldn’t have access to the recordings.
The restriction would be in place and Iran’s final decision whether to extend the agreement would be announced, according to Khatibzadeh.
Iran’s Parliament set a deadline for the administration in recent legislation to deny the IAEA any access to nuclear sites beyond safeguards agreements and halt implementation of Additional Protocol in case the US refused to remove sanctions.
The IAEA had planned for its chief, Grossi, to hold a news conference on May 23rd but it said he was still “consulting with Tehran” and that his news conference had been postponed until Monday morning.
An unnamed Iranian official was quoted as saying the agreement between the IAEA and Tehran could be extended “conditionally” for a month.
“If extended for a month and if during this period major powers … accept Iran’s legal demands, then the data will be handed over to the agency. Otherwise, the images will be deleted forever,” according to the member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
Iran and global powers have held several rounds of negotiations since April in Vienna, Austria, working on steps that Tehran and Washington must take, on sanctions and nuclear activities, to return to full compliance with the nuclear pact.
On May 23rd, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that it remains unclear whether Iran is “ready and willing” to take the necessary steps to return to compliance with the multination nuclear agreement.
Speaking before a fifth round of talks in Vienna on rescuing that deal, Blinken was asked about Iranian reports that Washington had already agreed to lift some of the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
“We know what sanctions would need to be lifted if they’re inconsistent with the nuclear agreement,” he said.
He added that more importantly, “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision.
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