Senior Iranian diplomat elaborates on Salehi’s letter to IAEA chief

June 3, 2021 - 1:15

TEHRAN - Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kazem Gharibabadi, has given more details about the letter that Iran’s nuclear chief sent to IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi.

The letter, sent via Gharibabadi, contained details about Iran’s decision to announce the expiration of a technical understanding between Iran and the IAEA.

The letter was announced after the Agency released a quarterly report on Iran in which it accused Iran of failing to explain traces of uranium found at several allegedly undeclared sites. The letter also came after Grossi announced on May 24 that he had agreed with Iran to extend by one month a February deal between Iran and the IAEA allowing the UN nuclear watchdog to continue necessary monitoring activities.

However, Gharibabadi said on Twitter that Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), in his letter, told Grossi that the monitoring deal has expired.

“Dr. Salehi's letter to @rafaelmgrossi: Whereas the Technical Understanding was expired on May 24, Iran decided not to extend it, meanwhile we decided to continue recording for one month aimed at providing another opportunity to conclude bilateral tech negotiations with the Agency,” Gharibabadi said on Twitter, adding, “On safeguards, Iran has so far done its utmost efforts to cooperate with the Agency substantively and provide the necessary clarifications and responses. We welcome the Agency’s readiness for engaging in a proactive and focused effort to resolve the issues without any delay.”

According to Fars News, the Iranian diplomat also said, “And as before, we would continue to cooperate constructively with the Agency. We highly expect such a mutual determination would result in reaching a visible practical outcome as quickly as possible.”

Gharibabadi provided more details about the letter in an interview with Iran’s TV.  “We delivered this letter to the Director General of the Agency yesterday, which addresses two issues. One [aspect of the letter] is about a joint agreement we had with the Agency to record data from some of the Agency's surveillance cameras for three months without providing the data to the Agency, and if we reach an agreement on nuclear issues and the outcome as well as the lifting of sanctions after three months, then we will provide information to the Agency,” he said.

According to Gharibabadi, safeguards issues constitute another aspect of the letter. “The letter explicitly states that Iran has all kinds of interactions and cooperation with the IAEA and that we are still ready to work with the IAEA to resolve a number of safeguards issues, but the IAEA must work with a neutral and non-political approach to conclude these issues as soon as possible,” he noted.

Underlining that the AEOI-IAEA deal expired on May 24, the Iranian diplomat said, “There were contacts and requests from the Agency and the countries that are negotiating with us in the framework of the JCPOA talks to extend this understanding for another period. This issue was examined internally and the conclusion was that this understanding could not be legally extended, but the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to continue recording data for another month in its own good faith and as an independent decision and not a legal decision.”

He added, “What happens next month and what we do with this data is an independent sovereign decision that takes into account a number of factors, including the Agency's approach and technical approaches, especially in negotiations with us on safeguards as well as political negotiations in the field of the JCPOA.”

Gharibabadi also commented on the IAEA quarterly report on Iran. “The Director-General of the Agency released two quarterly reports yesterday for next week's meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, one on verifying the implementation of the JCPOA in Iran and the other on a number of remaining safeguards disputed between Iran and the IAEA,” he continued.

“The entire JCPOA report is influenced by the decision we made to the Agency on February 15, 2021, stating that from 23 February we will cease all voluntary and transparent activities under the JCPOA. Our decision followed the implementation of the strategic law of the Islamic Consultative Assembly on the lifting of all sanctions and the protection of the rights of the nation. After that, all voluntary actions, including the implementation of the Additional Protocol in Iran, came to a halt,” the Iranian diplomat said, adding, “This report lists verification restrictions in more than a dozen cases, and this report indicates that Iran's decision and the law of the Islamic Consultative Assembly have been well implemented in this regard. Another point reflected in the JCPOA report is that this report acknowledges that Iran's nuclear activities, especially in the two areas of new machines and enrichment, i.e. both the level of enrichment and enrichment up to 5%, up to 20% and up to 60% as well as the stockpile or the amount of uranium we enrich, continue as before.”

He stated that there has been no suspension of Iran's nuclear activities, adding, “The parliamentary law and Iran's decision to suspend voluntary activities are underway and all nuclear activities in various fields continue, and the Agency report confirms this. Of course, due to the fact that the Agency, because of our decision, did not have access to its own monitoring equipment and we suspended some of its beyond-safeguards access, some of the statistics the Agency published about the activities are estimates of the Agency and some of the statistics in the Agency report on the JCPOA are the result of the Agency's safeguards-related verifications, which is not prohibited.”

Gharibabadi added, “In the second report released by the Agency on safeguards, you are aware that we have about three or four disputes concerning safeguards with the Agency. We repeatedly told the Agency that these issues are not so important and complicated that the Agency wants to make them an important agenda for the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is claimed, for example, that some activities took place about two decades ago. The Agency took samples and some contaminants were found in one or two places, and we are working with the Agency to clear up these ambiguities.”

He also warned the IAEA against adopting a political approach to cooperation between Iran and the UN body in the midst of the nuclear negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

If the Agency continues to turn insignificant issues into political agenda, Gharibabadi warned, Iran will change its behavior with the international body accordingly.

“The international community now suffers from concerns about the proliferation and existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of some regimes, such as the insane Israeli regime. What has the Agency done about this regime? While this regime is not a member of any of the disarmament institutions and disarmament and arms control treaties, the Agency has never put pressure on Israel,” Gharibabadi continued.

The Iranian diplomat pointed out, “This regime has weapons and threatens to use them. Now you want to turn two or three old issues from more than two decades ago, which are very insignificant and worthless, into a political agenda in the case of Iran, which in 2020, according to a recent Agency report accepted more than 20 percent of the Agency inspections worldwide. This is not something that we can ignore. We will definitely pay attention to it and adjust our behavior.”

He added, “We explicitly sent this message to the director general of the Agency, and yesterday I sent a serious warning in the form of a message to the director general of the Agency and head of the safeguards department, not to abuse Iran's goodwill and behavior, and to address the serious concerns the international community facing in the proliferation sphere. A prominent example of those concerns is the Israeli regime.”


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