Monday, February 22, 2021
Controls continue for now
Atomic Agency reaches deal with Iran
In an effort to de-escalate the nuclear dispute with Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found an interim solution with Tehran. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Sunday evening in Vienna that he had negotiated a “temporary solution” for the next three months during talks in Tehran. It enables the IAEA controls in Iran to be continued – but in a restricted form from Tuesday.
Iran had threatened to restrict the IAEA inspectors’ access to some of its nuclear facilities from Tuesday if the US does not relax its sanctions against Tehran.
Grossi wanted to find an “amicable solution” in Tehran so that the IAEA could continue its controls. On Sunday he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif and the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi. After the talks, Iranian UN Ambassador Kasem Gharibabadi said that Iran and the IAEA had “had fruitful discussions on the basis of mutual respect”.
Grossi said after his return to Vienna that a “temporary technical agreement” had been reached during the talks. The IAEA will have “less access” to the nuclear facilities in the future, but the agreement will enable “the necessary level of controls and verification work to be maintained”. Grossi did not say which of its activities in Iran the IAEA will have to restrict in the future. However, it confirmed that the number of IAEA inspectors in Iran will remain the same and that short-term controls will still be possible.
Iran had promised the IAEA inspectors also short-term inspections of plants in an additional protocol to the nuclear agreement of 2015. A law passed by the Iranian parliament in December, however, requires that this permit be revoked if there is no easing of the US sanctions by then. The law comes into force on Tuesday.
The Vienna Nuclear Agreement is intended to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, but the Islamic Republic has been promised to relax sanctions. However, after withdrawing from the agreement in 2018, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran. Since then, Tehran has also gradually withdrawn from its obligations.