Iran yet to decide on extending monitoring deal with IAEA

Published June 29, 2021
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna on September 9, 2019. — Reuters
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna on September 9, 2019. — Reuters

DUBAI: Iran said on Monday it has yet to decide whether to extend a monitoring deal with the UN nuclear watchdog which lapsed last week, amid Washington’s warning that Tehran’s failure to renew it would complicate talks to revive its 2015 nuclear accord.

“No decision has been made yet, either negative or positive, about extending the monitoring deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised weekly news conference.

Iran and world powers are in negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Washington abandoned the deal in 2018, and Tehran responded by violating some of its nuclear restrictions. In February, Iran halted an agreement with the IAEA that allowed additional inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. Some inspections were extended under temporary deals, but those expired last Thursday.

On Friday, the IAEA demanded an immediate reply from Iran on whether it would extend the agreement, While US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any failure to extend it would be a “serious concern” for broader negotiations.

France’s foreign ministry said in a daily briefing on Monday that it regretted Iran’s lack of response, but declined to say whether it would have any broader consequences for the wider talks.

“Iran must resume cooperation with the IAEA and immediately restore its full access,” it said.

Iran said last week that the country’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, would decide whether to renew the temporary agreements, under which data and footage were still collected in some places where inspections stopped.

“Also there has been no new decision about deleting the data and footage from the IAEA’s cameras,” Khatibzadeh said.

On Sunday, the speaker of Iran’s parliament said Tehran will never hand over images from inside of some Iranian nuclear sites to the IAEA, as the agreement with the agency had expired.

Iran’s talks with world powers on the nuclear pact, under way since April 9, were paused last week and are expected to resume in coming days. The parties said last week that major gaps remain. “Many issues have been negotiated sufficiently ... Now the other parties must make their tough decisions if they want to reinstate the deal,” Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by state media.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2021

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