TEHRAN (Iran News) – Tehran, IAEA Agree to Extend Monitoring Deal by One Month. Iran and the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agreed on Monday to a one-month extension to a deal on surveillance cameras at Tehran’s atomic sites, buying more time for ongoing negotiations seeking to save the country’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
The last-minute discussions, including the International Atomic Energy Agency pushing back a statement planned for Sunday, further underscored the narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran as it presses a tough stance with the international community over its atomic program. The Islamic Republic is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal.
Speaking at a news conference Monday in Vienna, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi told journalists that came after a discussion with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program. He acknowledged that challenges remain, however, as the agency still can’t access images taken by its cameras.
“I’d want to stress this is not ideal,” Grossi said. “This is like an emergency device that we came up with in order for us to continue having these monitoring activities.”
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, acknowledged the deal at the same time on Twitter. He said Tehran’s civilian nuclear agency, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, would keep the material already recorded by the IAEA cameras.
“We recommend the negotiating countries to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner,” Gharibabadi wrote.
Meanwhile Iran’s Supreme National Security Council released a statement on the extension of the agreement between Iran and the IAEA until June 24.
“Today, May 24, 2021, the quarterly opportunity regarding the storage of data of surveillance cameras installed in Iran’s nuclear facilities expires,” it said.
Emphasizing the suspension of the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol by Iran in accordance with the law on “Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Protect Iranian Nation’s Interests”, the Iranian council announced its decision on the method of cooperation with the IAEA after the expiration of the previous agreement.
“Due to ongoing technical negotiations on the settlement of safeguards issues between Iran and the IAEA, which are being held simultaneously with the Vienna talks, surveillance camera data will be stored for one month as of May 24 to provide the opportunity for further negotiations and reaching a final conclusion.”
Under a confidential agreement called an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyzes images from a series of surveillance cameras installed at Iranian nuclear sites. Those cameras helped it monitor Tehran’s program to see if it is complying with the nuclear deal.
Western diplomats have said that not extending the IAEA deal could jeopardize efforts to salvage the 2015 accord, which aims to keep Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it has never wanted to build them.
Iran and world powers will resume talks in Vienna this week on the nuclear deal, which Washington abandoned three years ago and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“I recommend that they use this opportunity, which has been provided in good faith by Iran, and lift all the sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner,” Gharibabadi said.
Iran’s move to curb IAEA access arose from parliamentary legislation widely seen as pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to return to the nuclear pact and lift sanctions.