Iran and the IAEA have announced a “temporary” agreement to maintain oversight of nuclear activities, albeit reduced, until talks begin between the parties to the 2015 international agreement.
Discussions between Iran and the IAEA produced a “significant result,” Tehran said on Monday, on the eve of the entry into force of a measure aimed at limiting the inspection capacities of its nuclear activities in the face of the maintenance of US sanctions.
The talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “have produced a very significant diplomatic result,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Saïd Khatibzadeh said the day after the visit of the Director General of the Agency, Rafael Grossi, and before the application of a law of Parliament limiting inspections.
On Sunday, following Rafael Grossi’s visit to Tehran, Iran and the IAEA announced a “temporary” agreement to maintain surveillance of nuclear activities, although reduced, until talks began between the parties to the 2015 international agreement.
Without the United States
Mistreated in recent years, this Vienna Pact is supposed to frame the Iranian nuclear program. Concluded by the Islamic Republic with the 5 + 1 group (United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, China), it provided for a gradual lifting of sanctions in exchange for the guarantee that Iran would not acquire the atomic weapon – which the Islamic Republic has always denied.
In 2018, however, Donald Trump’s United States unilaterally withdrew from the pact, and then reintroduced the following year sanctions that strangle the Iranian economy. In retaliation, Tehran freed itself from several limits imposed by the Vienna agreement from 2019.
“Once everyone has done their part and fulfilled their obligations, then there will be (a resumption) of discussions” on a full return to the agreement, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif repeated Sunday.
What does Sunday night’s announcement change?
Iranian law, which should restrict access to certain inspections, including on suspicious military sites, in the absence of the lifting of US sanctions on February 21 “exists and will be applied” from Tuesday, Rafael Grossi warned. his return to Vienna, after his “intense consultations” in Tehran.
“Access will be reduced, let’s face it, but we will be able to maintain the necessary degree of oversight and verification,” he added. “It saves the day for the day.”
Under the terms of this three-month “technical bilateral agreement” which may be suspended at any time, the number of on-site inspectors remains unchanged and unannounced checks will remain possible. “Of course, to achieve a stable situation, it will take a political negotiation, and it is not my responsibility”, insisted Rafael Grossi.
“No image transmitted”
“Certain agreements have been concluded to continue verifications within the framework of the guarantees” of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), for his part assured the spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, “the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol (to the NPT) has been suspended”, in accordance with the decisions of Parliament. “The cameras will remain on but no image will be transmitted to the IAEA,” he said.
According to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (OIEA), these images will be removed if the sanctions are not lifted within three months. This suspension of the additional protocol to the NPT does not mean an exit from the nuclear agreement, Iranian officials have however stressed.
Joe Biden wants to restart the dialogue
In the same, a senior American military official took advantage of a visit to Oman to call on Iran to refrain from any provocation, at a time when the new American administration of Joe Biden says it wants to restart the dialogue.
“I think now is the time for everyone to show restraint and caution, and see how it goes,” said General Kenneth McKenzie, who commands all US forces in the Middle East, in an interview with AFP.
“Much will be determined in the coming months,” added General McKenzie, head of the US Army Central Command (Centcom).
The Sultanate of Oman is an ally of the United States, which uses several air bases as well as the port of Salalah (south). But he also has ties to Iran, and he is a traditional mediator during regional or international crises in the Gulf.
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