IAEA will continue ‘necessary verification’ of Iran’s nuclear activities: statement

February 22, 2021 - 11:11

TEHRAN – Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have reached an understanding on how to continue cooperation two days before Iran starts implementing a nuclear law obligating the Iranian government to halt implementing the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The deal was reached during a two-day visit by the IAEA Director-General Mariano Grossi to Iran. During the visit, Grossi met with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Iranian Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“Intensive consultations led to a good result. A temporary technical understanding has been reached. The IAEA will continue its necessary verification and monitoring in Iran,” the UN nuclear watchdog chief said in a tweet following his visit to Iran. 

The IAEA and the AEOI issued a joint statement outlining the content of the understanding moments after Grossi concluded his visit to Iran.

“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recalled and reaffirmed the spirit of cooperation and enhanced mutual trust that led to the Joint Statement in Tehran on 26 August 2020, and the importance of continuing that cooperation and trust,” the statement said. “The AEOI informed the IAEA that in order to comply with the act passed by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran called “Strategic Action to Cease Actions and Protect the interest of Iranian Nation” (The “Law”) Iran will stop the implementation of the voluntary measures as envisaged in the JCPOA, as of 23 February 2021.”

The statement added, “In view of the above and in order for the Agency to continue its verification and monitoring activities, the AEOI and the IAEA agreed: 1. That Iran continues to implement fully and without limitation its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as before. 2. To a temporary bilateral technical understanding, compatible with the Law, whereby the IAEA will continue with its necessary verification and monitoring activities for up to 3 months (as per technical annex). 3. To keep the technical understanding under regular review to ensure it continues to achieve its purposes.”

This deal was reached only two days before Iran starts the implementation of the nuclear law.

The law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect the Nation’s Rights,” stipulates that the Iranian government should take certain nuclear measures such as raising the level of uranium enrichment to 20% and suspending the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol if the Western parties failed to honor their obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The law was adopted in December.

The sixth article of the law clearly stipulates that if the remaining parties to the JCPOA – Germany, France, China, Russia and the UK- failed to facilitate Iran’s oil exports and the return of Iranian oil revenues in two months, the Iranian government would be obligated to stop inspections beyond the IAEA safeguards, including the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, which allows unannounced and intensive inspections of nuclear sites.

Iran will implement the nuclear law which obligates the government to halt implementing the Additional Protocol on February 23, Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to international organizations in Vienna, said on February 15.

“Act of Parliament will be executed on time (23 Feb) and the IAEA has been informed today to ensure the smooth transition to a new course in due time. After all, goodwill brings about goodwill!” Ambassador Gharibabadi tweeted.

In a Twitter thread on Sunday night, Gharibabadi gave more details about the content of Iran’s agreement with the IAEA. He said this agreement is consistent with the Parliament’s nuclear law.

“The Agency will not be given any access beyond the [IAEA] safeguards. The continuation of the Agency's verification, as per the technical annex to the Joint Statement, is solely for the purpose of maintaining information on certain activities and monitoring equipment by Iran for three months. The Agency has no access to this information and the information remains exclusively with Iran. If the sanctions are lifted completely within three months, Iran will provide this information to the IAEA, otherwise, it will be deleted forever,” Gharbibadi tweeted. 

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also echoed the same remarks, saying that the deal with the Agency is compatible with the nuclear law.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, Khatibzadeh said, “The result of what happened during Mr. Grossi's visit between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency is a remarkable diplomatic and technical achievement. Dr. Salehi and his colleagues worked hard to move within the framework of the parliament's binding law. As stated in the joint statement with the IAEA, all that has been agreed is in accordance with parliamentary law.”

The nuclear law is part of Iran’s strategy to force the West into lifting sanctions. Iran has said many times that it will return to the full implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal after the U.S. lifts its sanctions. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that the U.S. should lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to reverse its nuclear measures.

“U.S. acknowledged Pompeo’s claims regarding Resolution 2231 had no legal validity. We agree. In compliance with 2231: U.S. unconditionally & effectively lift all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump. We will then immediately reverse all remedial measures. Simple: #CommitActMeet,” Zarif said in a tweet on Friday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a recent telephone conversation with his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin that it’s up to the U.S. to make the first move toward reviving the JCPOA.

“The ball is in the U.S. court now. When it lifts illegal sanctions in practice, everything will return to the right path,” the Iranian president pointed out.

With Iran stopping the implementation of the Additional Protocol on February 23, the West now has a period of about three months to address Iran’s concerns. Otherwise, Iran will continue to restrict cooperation with the IAEA until it gets the sanctions lifted.

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