Iran's president and its nuclear chief have once again demanded an end to the IAEA probe into Iran’s past secret work, before a new JCPOA deal is concluded.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been demanding proper explanations from Iran regarding uranium traces found at several sites used in its nuclear program before 2003. Reports in recent weeks have indicated that Tehran wants the closure of this probe before a deal is concluded to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, JCPOA.
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran speaking on Monday said that the IAEA probe must be closed before an agreement is reached to revive the JCPOA.
Eslami speaking during a provincial visit said that “The essence of the JCPOA negotiations is the dismissal of these charges and denying an excuse to the enemy that constantly” brings up the issue.
The United States and its European allies are not willing to reverse a resolution they spearheaded in June at the IAEA Board of Governors to demand answers from Iran.
Last week, Eslami doubled down on his demand after a senior US official told Reuters on August 22 that Iran had shelved its demand to end the probe. It is not clear to what degree the IAEA dispute would be detrimental to an agreement that seems to be far advanced.
The White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby on Sunday said, "We are certainly closer today than we were about two weeks ago thanks to Iran being willing to concede on a couple of major issues. But There are still gaps that remain between all sides.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli media on Sunday published what it said was the timeline of the JCPOA restoration as proposed by the European Union, which acts as a mediator between Iran and the United States.
The process envisages a 165-day period for the full restoration of the JCPOA, but before that, the US and Iran are supposed to reach a deal to free Western prisoners in exchange for freeing Iranian funds frozen because of US sanctions.
The 165-day period starts with Day Zero, when President Joe Biden would rescind three executive orders related to sanctions and other measures against Iran. This will open the way to first unfreeze $7 billion held by South Korean banks.
Iran would reduce its uranium enrichment from 60 percent to 20 percent and will hold on to the fissile material it already has.
The Biden Administration will send the deal to the US Congress within five days in the framework of the Iran Nuclear Review Act (INARA) of May 2015, which requires any deal lifting Iran sanctions to be reviewed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Short of formal treaty requiring Senate ratification, this is what the Biden Administration hopes to offer political cover for the deal, but its passage in the Senate is doubtful given the current 50-50 split in the chamber. If it does not pass Biden can use his presidential veto.
The Jerusalem Post in a report on Sunday wrote, “There is, however, still a chance of a majority opposing a deal, amid growing concerns in Washington that Russia will use Iran as a conduit to avoid sanctions.”
Sixty days after Day Zero, the UN Security Council will be notified of JCPOA restoration, and the US would grant a one-time permission to Iran to export 50 million barrels of oil it has stored.
This information confirms with what was leaked in Tehran that Iran International reported on August 19.
By this time Iran would stop enriching above 5 percent, and “would have to fulfil its commitments to the IAEA regarding its ongoing investigation” into uranium traces found at undeclared sites.
Therefore, Iran’s insistence that the IAEA probe should be dropped shows there is still no final agreement on this issue.