The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will no longer be able to access images of the Iranian nuclear sites because a monitoring deal with the UN nuclear body has expired, Iran's Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said Sunday.
The announcement can be seen as further pressure on the United States to return to the 2015 Nuclear Agreement, of which it pulled out in 2018, by orders of former president Donald Trump. The US then reimposed and widened sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Negotiations to that end are being held in Vienna, between Iran and representatives of China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany. Washington conditions its return to the deal to Tehran’s full compliance with the agreement’s limitations on uranium enrichment. Iran says the end of US sanctions comes first. “From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement, and cannot transfer them,” Qalibaf told Parliament. In February, Iran and the IAEA reached a technical understanding under which Iran agreed to keep the camera footage of its nuclear sites for three months in a goodwill gesture, waiting to see if the other parties to the nuclear deal can bring the US back into full compliance with the accord. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday: “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven't yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That's the test and we don't yet have an answer.” Last December, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is the head of the Iranian delegation to the Vienna talks, told Japan's NHK channel on Friday that the Islamic Republic may consider extending the deal with the IAEA on inspection of its nuclear sites.