Iran Blocks Inspectors From Accessing Nuclear Site Images As Vienna Deal Looms
It appears that Iran may be applying some last-minute leverage just ahead of the final round of nuclear talks in Vienna, and at a moment it’s being widely reported that the main parties, including the US, are on the cusp of agreeing on a deal as final documents are being drafted. Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf on Sunday announced that IAEA inspectors will no longer have access to surveillance images of the country’s nuclear sites.
“From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement,” Qalibaf said as announced in state television.
The prior conditional agreement for continued inspector access to nuclear sites had come out of prior threats from Iran to boot the monitoring mission from the country altogether if the US didn’t immediately lift Trump-era sanctions. There could yet still be a further conditional extension of the surveillance image monitoring by inspectors, perhaps up to one month, according to Reuters. According to an explanation of the significance of the UN-authorized monitoring mission…
Under what is called an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, the IAEA “collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras,” the agency said in 2017. The agency also said then that it had placed “2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.”
Iran’s hard-line parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories did not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by February. The IAEA struck a three-month deal with Iran to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterward if no deal had been reached.
Underscoring how significant a “threat” to the West and its allies ending all site monitoring procedures would be, Israel has previously said this would be a ‘red line’ showing the Islamic Republic’s intent to pursue nuclear weapons.
All of this in reality appears Tehran’s attempts to move more speedily toward realizing a restoration of the JCPOA nuclear deal, which would include a major roll-back of all sanctions – also seen as vital prior to Iran’s new presidential election in June.
Sun, 05/23/2021 – 14:00