EU welcomes extension of surveillance deal between Iran, IAEA

May 25, 2021 - 21:8

TEHRAN – The European Union on Monday welcomed a decision by Iran to extend a surveillance deal between Tehran and the UN nuclear watchdog, calling the decision “good news.”

Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora expressed satisfaction at the statement issued by Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), regarding the extension of a February monitoring deal between Iran and the IAEA.

“Good news from @RafaelMGrossi on the prolongation of the technical understanding reached between @iaeaorg and Iran. It allows for a bit more space to reach an agreement in Vienna. We resume tomorrow. We will redouble efforts to get full JCPOA implementation soon,” Mora said on Twitter.

Grossi said Monday he had agreed with Iran to extend by one month the necessary verification and monitoring activities carried out by the Agency in the country, according to an IAEA statement.

Director General Grossi made the announcement after reaching the agreement with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

“Under their agreement, the information collected by the Agency monitoring equipment covered by a Technical Understanding signed last February will continue to be stored for a further period of one month up to 24 June. They also agreed that the equipment will continue to operate and be able to collect and store further data for this period,” the IAEA statement said.

“I am happy that, through our continued dialogue, we were able to agree on this matter today,” Grossi said during the meeting.

“I welcome this development. The expiration of the Technical Understanding, which enabled the Agency’s verification and monitoring, would have been a serious loss at this critical time,” he added. “This agreed way forward ensures continuity of knowledge for a limited period of time.”

On Monday, Iran confirmed that it had extended the February deal.

“Due to the ongoing technical negotiations on the settlement of safeguards issues between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which are taking place in parallel with the Vienna talks, the storage of surveillance cameras data will continue for one month from May 24 so that the necessary opportunity is provided for the progress and conclusion of the negotiations,” Secretariat of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said in a statement.

The top security body also underlined the continued suspension of the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in accordance with a parliamentary nuclear law obliging the Iranian government to restrict cooperation with the IAEA unless the West lifts sanctions on Iran.

The nuclear law 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 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran’s monitoring deal with the IAEA came a few days before the nuclear law came into force.

Iran and the IAEA reached in February a temporary deal allowing the Agency to continue its monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities for a period of three months, which expired on Monday. The deal was reached during a two-day visit by IAEA chief Grossi to Iran.

On Monday, Grossi was informed of Iran’s decision regarding the February deal. “Iran's decision on the continuation of the data-recording for utmost one more month was informed today to @rafaelmgrossi the Director General of the IAEA,” Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s Ambassador to the Vienna-based international organizations, said in a tweet.

He added, “The pre-recorded data of the past 3 months will still be kept at the AEOI (IRAN). We recommend the negotiating countries to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner.”

The extension came amid intensive nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA. Nuclear negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries as well as the U.S. have just concluded the fourth round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. They will begin the fifth round soon, which is expected to be decisive.

The European Union said on Monday that the Joint Commission of the JCPOA will resume in a physical format on Tuesday, 25 May, in Vienna.

“The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran. Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA,” the EU said in a statement.

The negotiating teams returned to Vienna on Monday night in preparation for the fifth round of talks. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, who leads the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, announced that he has left Tehran for the Austrian capital to participate in the next round of the nuclear negotiations.

On Sunday, he briefed Iranian lawmakers on the outcome of the Vienna talks. “The deputy foreign minister presented a report on the latest state of the Vienna talks,” Abolfazl Amouei, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told reporters on Sunday.

“This meeting was held in the presence of our country's chief negotiator Araghchi in order to review the latest status of the Vienna talks and in line with the parliamentary oversight status,” Amouei continued. “This meeting was held for a relatively long time with the presence of the members of the Committee and after the fourth round of negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries. During the meeting, Mr. Araghchi presented a report on the negotiation process. During the meeting, the deputy foreign minister gave explanations to the deputies regarding the course of several rounds of negotiations.”

The spokesman added, “According to Mr. Araghchi, in these negotiations, the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Iran, due to its diplomatic logic regarding the lifting of the sanctions, has been able to bring a large part of the sanctions to a stage where the Western and American sides accept that they should be lifted.”

Araghchi himself said that his meeting at the Parliament had lasted for 4 hours.

“Yesterday I spent 4hrrs before our Parliament's National Security/Foreign Policy Commission to brief MPs on Vienna talks. Very tough. But useful. Bottom line is same: Having left JCPOA, U.S. must first provide verifiable sanctions lifting. Iran will then resume full implementation. Is the U.S. ready?” the top Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Twitter.

Following the end of the fourth round of talks, Araghchi said the negotiations have made progress and that the negotiators reached a position where they can reach a general conclusion.

“During these discussions, we tried to reach a conclusion on the issues at stake, either to resolve the differences or to decrease them, and the result is that we are in a position where we can have a general conclusion,” he said.

He continued, “There are some key issues that need to be resolved and there is agreement on the rest; the texts have been well written and so now is the time to go back to the capitals and have the final consultations and then continue the negotiations.”

Ali Rabiei, spokesman for the Iranian government, also echoed the same assessment. He said on Tuesday that a general understanding have taken shape about the unresolved issues.

“General understandings about the differences have been made and the remaining details are minor. After reviewing and evaluating the negotiation process, the Supreme National Security Council, after consulting at the highest levels of the establishment, concluded that the negotiations are moving forward and in order to show the goodwill and seriousness of the Iranian side, it agreed to extend by one month the agreement reached between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Rabiei explained.

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