Iran hailed Monday a “significant result” in discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the eve of the entry into force of a measure to limit inspection capacities of its nuclear activities in the face of the maintenance of US sanctions.
On Sunday, following IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi’s visit to Tehran on Sunday, a “temporary” agreement was announced to maintain surveillance of Iranian nuclear activities, although reduced, while talks begin. between the parties to the 2015 international agreement.
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 reinstated sanctions that are strangling the Iranian economy. In retaliation, Tehran freed itself from several limits imposed by the Vienna agreement from 2019.
The talks with the IAEA “have led to a very significant diplomatic result,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Saïd Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
– “Immediately” –
Iranian law, which must restrict access to certain inspections, including on suspicious military sites, in the absence of the lifting of US sanctions on February 21 “will be applied” from Tuesday, warned Rafael Grossi on his return in Vienna, after “intense consultations” in Tehran.
“Access will be reduced, let’s face it, but we will be able to maintain the necessary degree of monitoring 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 Mr. Grossi.
“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, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repeated Sunday.
Moscow hailed the temporary agreement on Monday, saying “the IAEA and Iran have made a positive contribution to creating the conditions for the start of a substantive conversation” between the parties on “Washington’s return. “in the Vienna Agreement.
– “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 Iranian spokesperson for Foreign Affairs.
Nevertheless, “the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol (to the NPT) has been suspended”, in accordance with the decisions of the 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 deleted 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.
A senior American military official also 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 Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who commands US forces in the Middle East, in an interview with AFP.
“A lot of things will be determined in the coming months,” added the head of the US Army Central Command (Centcom).
The Sultanate of Oman, a traditional mediator in the Gulf, is an ally of the United States but it also has links with Iran.
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