In a bid to put pressure on the West, Iran will keep the UN nuclear watchdog’s cameras turned off until the 2015 nuclear deal is restored, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported citing the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation as saying on Monday.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed by Iran that it had removed IAEA equipment, including 27 cameras installed under the 2015 pact with world powers, after the agency passed a resolution criticising Tehran in June.
“We will not turn on the IAEA cameras until the other side returns to the nuclear deal,” Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said.
The tradeoff for Iran resulting from the 2015 nuclear pact, which imposed curbs on Tehran’s nuclear activities, was that it would be freed from international sanctions. Then-president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018, reimposing tough economic sanctions on Iran. The clerical authorities in charge of Iran retaliated by breaching the pact’s nuclear restrictions.
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani accused IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi of having “unprofessional, unfair and unconstructive views” on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
He also added that if the US showed goodwill, Iran could return to the nuclear deal soon.
“Iran is committed to talks and will continue until a good and sustainable deal is reached,” Mr Kanaani said at his weekly news conference.
But with Iran’s nuclear programme “galloping ahead”, the IAEA’s visibility on Tehran’s nuclear doings is greatly limited, as shown by Mr Grossi’s Friday interview with Spain’s El Pais newspaper.
The West has been rising alarm calls that Iran is progressing towards making a nuclear bomb. Iran rebuffs such intentions on its part. No negotiation progress has been made since March when an Iranian-US entered a deadlock. The state of the matter was met with expressions of disappointment by French President Emmanuel Macron who communicated it to his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, according to a Sunday statement from the Elysee Palace.
What stalled the nuclear deal revival in March was lack of consensus on whether the US should remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organization list – a supreme force having its own elite armed and intelligence assets separate from Iran’s regular army. Washington accuses IRGC of a global terrorist campaign and the Biden administration has made clear it has no plan to drop the IRGC from the list, a step that would have limited practical effect but which would anger many US lawmakers.