Iran lays out rules for cooperation with IAEA

June 28, 2021 - 0:26

TEHRAN – Iran has provided explanations on the continuation of its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog after it accused Iran of being unresponsive to demands by the UN body regarding a technical understanding that expired last week.

The understanding which was reached in February laid out temporary conditions for Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency to continue monitoring activities in light of a nuclear law obligating the Iranian government to restrict cooperation with the IAEA and ratchet up nuclear activities in case the West failed to ensure Iran’s interests envisioned in the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

 Under the February deal, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (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,” according to a joint statement issued by the IAEA and the AEOI during a visit by IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi to Iran. 

This deal expired in May, but at that time, Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA were busy negotiating a possible Iranian and American return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Therefore, Iran and the IAEA decided to extend by one month the technical understanding. The Vienna negotiations did not result in a resumption of the JCPOA and the temporary understanding reached its expiry date. Here relations between Iran and the IAEA started souring, with Iran announcing the expiration of the February deal and the IAEA insisting on an extension. 

On Friday, Grossi, in a report to the IAEA Board of Governors, announced that Iran has not responded to the IAEA questions concerning the technical understanding. “An immediate response from Iran is needed in this regard,” the IAEA said in a statement summarizing a report by its chief Rafael Grossi to its 35-nation board that was also seen by Reuters.

“The Director-General stresses the vital importance of continuing the Agency's necessary verification and monitoring activities in Iran, including the uninterrupted collection and storage of data by its monitoring and surveillance equipment,” the statement added. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that the IAEA director-general wrote a letter to Iranian officials on June 17, but Iran has not responded to the letter and has not determined whether it intends to maintain the current agreement or not.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, has responded to the IAEA statement by saying that Iran was under no obligation to respond to extend the understanding. 

“Data recording was a political decision by Iran to facilitate, including, the political talks and to help its success and shouldn't be considered as an obligation in relation with the Agency. Since Iran is continuing the implementation of its CSA, continuation or discontinuation of recording has nothing to do with Iran’s safeguards obligations.” he said on Twitter, adding, “Undoubtedly, any decision to be taken by Iran in this regard would only be based on its political considerations, and the Agency can not, and should not, consider it as a something it was entitled to.”

Gharibabadi further elaborated on his remarks in a televised program on Saturday, saying Iran had been retaining data from the cameras “solely based on goodwill, and not as part of its obligations towards the agency.”

The Islamic Republic took the decision to keep data only out of “political considerations” and in line with its commitment to international safeguards, he said. “Iran is not bound by any commitment to implement the agency’s demand,” the envoy noted, according to Press TV. 

In that sense, “the Agency had no duty to report on the expired [understanding] agreement” to the Board of Governors, Gharibabadi said.

The Iranian diplomat said the Agency is not in a position to determine the measures needed to be taken by Iran in terms of dealing with the technical understanding. Instead, it only serves as an executive body. “In fact, here we see the Agency only as an executive, not as a responsible body that determines duties,” Gharibabadi pointed out.

On Sunday, Iran once again underlined that the Iran-IAEA deal has expired.  “I have already talked about the Agency, and now I say that after the three-month opportunity which came to an end, nothing has been extended and after that none of the items recorded inside will ever be given to the Agency and are in the possession of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said in response to a query from a lawmaker who demanded clarity on the fate of the February deal. 

A spokesman for the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee warned about turning off the cameras being operated inside Iranian nuclear facilities if sanctions on Iran are not lifted. 

In remarks to Yemen’s Al Masirah TV channel, the spokesman, Mahmoud Abbas Zadeh Meshkini, said, “If sanctions are not lifted, we will not only not give them data and images, but we will also turn off the cameras.”

Iranian and the U.S. as well as European diplomats are preparing for a potentially decisive round of talks this week in Vienna that is expected to result in a consensus to revive the JCPOA. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi, who leads the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, said on Sunday that the Vienna talks have almost reached their end and that the time has come for the negotiating parties to make decisions. 

Leave a Comment

4 + 10 =