Iran’s atomic chief Mohammad Eslami said Monday Iran would not switch on nuclear-monitoring cameras turned off in June until the 2015 nuclear deal was restored.
Tehran’s relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have soured since the agency’s board, made up of 35 member states, passed June’s resolution critical of Iran’s alleged failure to supply adequate information about its pre-2003 nuclear work.
Eslami said Tehran would not go further in answering IAEA questions over this work, despite the dissatisfaction expressed by agency director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi in his report to June’s IAEA board at Iran’s explanation of uranium traces in sites not declared as nuclear-related.
Eslami was quoted by state media as saying the file on pre-2003 work had been “closed” at the time of the 2015 agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). “They should know that closed items will not be reopened,” Eslami said. “The basis of the nuclear accord was a response to those alleged cases.”
Following the passage of the June IAEA board resolution – moved by the United States and three European countries, and opposed by Russia and China with India among those abstaining – Tehran said it would remove some IAEA monitoring equipment, that had been kept in place under a temporary arrangement reached with Grossi in February 2021.
Iran had agreed to this ‘extra’ equipment staying, even though it had decided in December 2020 to reduce cooperation with the agency to the basic level required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Talks in Vienna tried for a year up to March to reach agreement between Iran and six world powers over restoring the JCPOA, which had imposed strict limits on the nuclear program and gave the IAEA enhanced inspection powers. But when the US in 2018 left the JCPOA and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, Tehran responded after 2019 by expanding its nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits and by February 2021, in response to parliamentary legislation restricting IAEA access. The parliamentary bill was introduced the day after the US presidential election and passed after a nuclear scientist was assassinated near Tehran.
While the role of the IAEA is essentially technical, June’s resolution has further enmeshed it in the wider dispute over JCPOA restoration. The US and Iran, both in Vienna talks and in June’s European Union-mediated talks in Doha, have failed to agree which US sanctions are incompatible with the 2015 agreement.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday Grossi was displaying "unprofessional, unfair and unconstructive views” and called on him to “refrain from politically motivated statements.”
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais published July 22, Grossi said the Iranian program was “advancing at a gallop” while the agency had “very little visibility.” Repeating his remarks reported in May, the IAEA chief was quotedthat “no country that does not have warlike developments enriches at that level, at 60 percent.”
Iran expanded enrichment from the JCPOA limit of 3.67 percent to 4.5 percent in July 2019, and to 20 percent in January 2021 after. President Hassan Rouhani in April 2021, following an attack on the Natanz nuclear facility, announced enrichment to 60 percent, saying the move would enable Iran to attend negotiations“with an even fuller hand.”