Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Iran has agreed to extend the access of UN inspectors to its nuclear facilities for three months.
However, the Tehran agreement will restrict inspectors’ access to Iranian nuclear facilities and deprive them of the right to conduct unscheduled inspections.
Iran has been changing its access policy to its nuclear facilities since Tuesday, as the US did not lift sanctions imposed after Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and renewed economic sanctions against Iran. Tehran responded by announcing that it would not comply with the restrictions imposed by the agreement.
Iran says it will not return to fulfill the terms of the deal until the US does so, but President Joe Biden said Iran should do it first.
The crisis around Iran’s nuclear program has been going on for almost 20 years. Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and other countries suspect Tehran is secretly seeking opportunities to develop nuclear weapons.
What does Iran’s recent actions mean?
The law, which is due to be passed on Tuesday by Iranian MPs, requires the government to stop allowing IAEA inspectors to visit Iran’s nuclear facilities for spontaneous inspections.
“This law will be applied, which means that the Additional Protocol, to my great regret, will be suspended,” said IAEA head Rafael Grossi after talks in Tehran.
“There will be less access, let’s face it. But we will still be able to continue monitoring work,” he added.
The additional protocol allows the IAEA to conduct unannounced inspections at facilities previously not disclosed by the country.
Iran has allowed the IAEA to resume unscheduled inspections in accordance with the 2015 agreement. Such checks are part of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Iran last year denied IAEA inspectors access to two suspicious sites, leading to months of confrontation before Tehran conceded.
Routine inspections of nuclear facilities by IAEA experts, as agreed in the 2015 deal, will continue.
Iran has promised that the new law will not lead to the expulsion of inspectors from the country, but the ban on unscheduled inspections of nuclear facilities by IAEA inspectors will increase international concern.
“Buying precious time”
Analysis Paul Adams, diplomatic correspondent BBC
IAEA head Rafael Grossi called the results of the talks in Tehran a good result.
Their agreement will certainly ease the growing sense of crisis around Iran’s nuclear program and attempts to breathe new life into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Crucially, we managed to mitigate the impact of the new Iranian law, which is due to enter into force on Tuesday, which would seriously impede the IAEA’s ability to do its job.
However, Iran is suspending the implementation of the so-called Additional Protocol, which gives the IAEA more opportunities to conduct inspections.
But Grossi clearly believes that the “temporary bilateral technical understanding” reached at the talks in Tehran this weekend will allow IAEA inspectors to continue to do their job.
The agreement will have its skeptics, especially among those who have always considered the SPVD treaty a mistake and who are convinced that trying to save it is senseless or even dangerous.
But the deal, struck at a time when the Biden administration announced its readiness to return to the negotiating table, gives Washington and Tehran valuable time to seek a compromise.
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