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Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it is removing 27 surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities, the agency said Thursday, warning the move could deal "a fatal blow" to chances of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi told a press conference here that Tehran's latest decision "poses a serious challenge to our ability to continue working there."
Iran's move came a day after an IAEA board meeting on Wednesday passed a resolution to censure Iran for its nuclear safeguards issues.
The resolution had been proposed by the United States, Britain, France and Germany following recent IAEA reports that Iran has not provided "technically credible explanations" to uranium particles at three undeclared sites. However, Iranian officials rejected the reports and insisted the country did not carry out any clandestine and unrecorded nuclear activities.
Grossi said that more than 40 surveillance cameras would remain in operation in Iran after the country's latest move. He warned that if an agreement cannot be reached on restoring the cameras in three to four weeks, "this would be a fatal blow" to hopes of reviving the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran signed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with the world powers in July 2015, agreeing to put some curbs on its nuclear program in return for the removal of the U.S.-led sanctions. However, former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement in May 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to reduce some of its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA.
Since April 2021, eight rounds of talks have been held in Vienna between Iran and the remaining JCPOA parties, including China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany, to revive the pact. However, the Vienna talks have stalled since mid-March due to reported major differences between Iran and the United States.
Wang Chang, deputy head of China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Vienna, said on Wednesday that putting pressure on Iran with the IAEA censure resolution "will not help solve problems, but intensity tensions."
Wang noted that the United States, as the initiator of the current Iran nuclear crisis, should make political decisions as soon as possible and actively respond to Iran's legitimate concerns to push for an early deal in the nuclear talks.