Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Iran begins reducing the work of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency


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Tehran (AFP)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that Iran began on Tuesday to reduce the work of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after the expiration of a deadline set by Parliament to lift the sanctions imposed by Washington after its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement.

The Shura Council requested the government of President Hassan Rouhani to reduce the work of inspectors in the event that the February 21 deadline expires without lifting the sanctions imposed by the United States since 2018 after the decision of its former president, Donald Trump, to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement concluded between Iran and the six major powers.

This step is the latest in a series of measures that Iran has started since mid-2019, and has included gradually retreating from many of its basic obligations under the 2015 Vienna Agreement, while affirming that it will return to their implementation if sanctions are lifted and other parties respect their obligations.

Zarif said, “We officially informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on February 15 that the council law will take effect from February 23,” according to what the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

“Therefore, this decision came into effect this morning,” he added.

On Monday, Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s ambassador to the organization, confirmed that the measure would take effect at midnight (20:30 GMT).

Iran reduced the work of inspectors by suspending voluntary commitment to the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but maintained its commitment to the safeguards agreement linked to the treaty.

This means, among other things, that Iran will not allow inspectors access to non-nuclear installations, especially military ones, in case there are suspicions of illegal nuclear activities.

The measure also means stopping the IAEA from obtaining CCTV recordings installed at some sites.

– “Active and confident” event –

The Director-General of the International Agency, Rafael Grossi, held meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, after which he announced that a “temporary agreement” had been reached with Iran that would allow some inspections to continue for a period of up to three months.

The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization stated that if the US sanctions are lifted within the three months, the cameras will be delivered to the IAEA, but they will be destroyed if the sanctions remain imposed by the expiration of the deadline.

Zarif said on Tuesday that the basis of the agreement “is that the recordings regarding our nuclear program (…) will be kept and not handed over to the agency.”

He pointed out that the tapes “were not delivered directly to the International Atomic Energy Agency, but on a daily or weekly basis.”

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei considered that the agreement concluded with Grossi allows for the preservation of cooperation between the Islamic Republic and the Agency.

“An effective and reassuring agreement was reached with Mr. Grossi,” he said in a press conference.

He added that it allows “to avoid harm to relations, and (strengthen) mutual trust and positive cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Grossi said Sunday that “our work will be restricted, to face this matter. But we were able to maintain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work.”

However, he believed that the agreement opens the way for “political discussions at other levels, and most importantly of all avoiding a situation in which we might be, in practical terms, walking adrift” at the inspection level.

The reformist newspaper “Etimad” described the agreement as a “three-month initiative to aid diplomacy,” citing the potential impact of this “technical understanding on diplomatic tracks” between Iran and the countries involved in the agreement.

For its part, the conservative “Kayhan” newspaper considered the interim agreement a “definitive victory” for Tehran.



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