Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have overcome their differences to seal a “provisional” month-long extension of limited UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear activities.
The agreement, which will last until June 24, comes despite Iranian parliament speaker Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf claiming on Sunday that the previous three-month agreement had expired and implied that it might not be replaced.
Rafael Grossi, IAEA director general, said the new extension meant his inspectors would not be “flying blind” and would leave the door ajar for more complete access in the future.
The agreement ensures that data filmed by IAEA inspectors inside Iran’s nuclear plants during the past three months will not be destroyed, and the filming will continue for another month.
But Grossi admitted that he had no guarantee that his experts would have access to the data after the June 24 expiration, by which time Iran will have elected a new president.
The one-month extension likely means that broader talks on lifting Iran’s sanctions against Iran and returning to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, may restart this week in Vienna. The talks have been billed as a final and decisive round.
If Iran and the US can reach an agreement on the return of the US, the IAEA will have access to the video recordings, including the uranium enrichment levels.
There has been a power struggle in Tehran related to its presidential elections over how far to compromise with the United States to ensure the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. The battle for the one-month extension may have been part of that power struggle, which is why its resolution suggests that Iran’s negotiators believe a deal is possible within a month.
The United States likely would have pulled out of the Vienna talks if the IAEA had not agreed on its conditional right to view videos of what Iran was doing within its sites, including in terms of uranium enrichment. “If access levels are restored, we can rebuild what is happening,” Grossi said. “It is not ideal. It is an emergency device so that we can continue to carry out these monitoring activities ”.
Iran’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, spent four hours in front of the Iranian parliament’s national security commission on Sunday establishing the foreign ministry’s negotiating position and the progress of the talks.
“Very tough, but useful,” was how he characterized Monday’s discussion in a tweet, adding: “The bottom line is that, having left the JCPOA, the United States must first provide a verifiable lifting of sanctions. Iran will then resume full implementation. “
In 2018, Donald Trump removed the US from the JCPOA, which had been agreed in 2015. Iran now seeks the US to lift all new imposed sanctions. The United States says that some of the sanctions are not related to Iran’s nuclear activities and should remain in effect until Iran changes its human rights behavior and ends its act of “regional destabilization.”
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the United States did not yet know whether Iran would meet its nuclear commitments to remove sanctions.
“I think Iran knows what it needs to do to get back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t seen yet is whether Iran is ready and willing to make the decision to do what it has to do. That’s the proof and we don’t have an answer yet, ”Blinken told ABC News.
In a reply Monday morning via tweet, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed Blinken’s statement, saying the harassment “didn’t work for Trump, it won’t work for you.”
He said the United States had a moral obligation to lift the sanctions: “Release the billions of dollars of the Iranian people held hostage abroad due to intimidation by the United States. Trump’s legacy is past its expiration date. “
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters: “We have made very significant progress and we still believe that an agreement is within our grasp.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism