The United Nations nuclear watchdog sought an urgent response from Iran on whether it would renew a monitoring arrangement that expired overnight, leading an Iranian ambassador to declare that Tehran was under no duty to react.
The arrangement allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to continue collecting data on certain of Tehran’s activities, softening the shock of Iran’s decision to restrict cooperation with the agency in February.
Grossi wrote to Iran last week “to understand Iran’s position regarding the possible continued collection, recording and retention of data”, the report said. As of Friday, Iran had not indicated if it intended to maintain the arrangement, it said.
According to Iran’s semi-official news outlet Tasnim, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, “said that Iran was not required to comply” with the IAEA chief’s request.
According to a U.S. State Department official, Washington believes Tehran should engage the IAEA immediately, and failing to do so would contradict Iran’s professed willingness for both parties to restart compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal as soon as feasible.
“Iran should engage the IAEA without further delay to ensure appropriate measures remain in place so the IAEA’s continuity of knowledge on JCPOA monitoring can be readily re-established,” the U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
Iran and the United States have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that imposed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
The Vienna talks, which began in April, are now in a pause that had been expected to last until early July, but failure to extend the monitoring accord could throw those negotiations into disarray.
“Regarding the IAEA, this remains a serious concern,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking before Grossi updated the board, told a news conference in Paris alongside his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The concern has been communicated to Iran and needs to be resolved.” read more
The United States abandoned the deal under then-President Donald Trump in 2018 and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to respond by violating many of its restrictions.
SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES WITH IRAN
One of Iran’s moves to reduce compliance was its February decision to end the deal’s extra IAEA monitoring of some nuclear activities. The temporary agreement continued that monitoring and a one-month extension ended overnight.
Officials on all sides have said there are major issues to resolve before the nuclear deal can be revived.
“We still have significant differences with Iran,” Blinken said, adding that he hoped a resumption of talks in the coming days could settle them. “We are just not there yet.”
Le Drian echoed that.
“We’re waiting for Iranian authorities to take the final difficult decisions to allow for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal,” he said.