Iran halts implementation of Additional Protocol

February 23, 2021 - 18:40

TEHRAN – Iran has stopped the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the United States failed to lift the sanctions it imposed on Iran during the Trump administration.

Under the Additional Protocol, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was allowed to carry out short-notice inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. But as of Tuesday, the Agency is no longer allowed to continue conducting inspections as per the Additional Protocol.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, announced late on Monday that the IAEA will no longer be allowed to carry out inspections in accordance with the Additional Protocol as of midnight.

“As of 12:00 p.m. local time (2030 GMT), we have nothing called obligations beyond the Safeguards Agreement,” the ambassador said. “Necessary orders have been issued to nuclear facilities.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also announced the cessation of implementation of the Additional Protocol on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international conference in Tehran on Tuesday, Zarif said, “We have officially announced to the International Atomic Energy Agency since February 15 that the Parliament’s law on this issue will be implemented from the morning of February 23, and for this reason, the implementation of this law has started this morning.”

The nuclear 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 in few months 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 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.

Zarif also pointed to the recent visit by the IAEA director-general, Rafael Grossi, to Iran, saying that the UN nuclear watchdog chief came to Iran to make arrangements for the implementation of the nuclear law.

“Mr. Grossi came to Iran to make arrangements for the implementation of the law. We have reached an agreement in this regard, and the principle of this agreement is that the tapes recorded from our nuclear programs, which were never presented live to the Agency, but were provided on a daily and weekly basis, will be kept from now on and will not be presented to the Agency,” the chief Iranian diplomat said, noting that Iran will continue to implement the IAEA safeguards.

On Sunday, Zarif met with Grossi in Tehran to discuss issues related to the nuclear law.

“Collaborations between Iran and the IAEA, the Agency's efforts to settle the two sides' issues, and the cooperation between Tehran and the UN nuclear watchdog within the framework of the Safeguards Agreement were among the most pressing issues discussed by the Iranian foreign minister and the IAEA director-general,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

During his two-day visit, the IAEA chief struck a deal with Iran on how to continue cooperation between Iran and the Agency in light of the nuclear law.

“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.”

The deal was reached only two days before Iran started implementing the nuclear law.

The deal drew criticism from some Iranian lawmakers who accused the government of circumventing the nuclear law. But the government reassured them that the deal with the Agency was in line with the nuclear law.

“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,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference on Monday.

Gharibabadi also offered assurances to the lawmakers that the deal is consistent with what the Parliament had enacted.

“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 on Sunday night.

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.


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