A factory that makes Iranian drones suffered a major explosion days after Israel claimed Iran was supplying drones to Hamas in Gaza.
The explosion over the weekend injured at least nine workers in an explosion at a petrochemical plant in Isfahan. The Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (Hesa), which produces a variety of aircraft and drones for Iranian and pro-Iranian forces, is located in the compound owned by Sepahan Nargostar Chemical Industries.
Iran has not provided information on the cause of the Isfahan incident, but Israel has shown no qualms in the past for taking what it sees as retaliation within Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday displayed the wreckage of what he described as an Iranian drone that was shot down Tuesday after crossing from Iraqi or Syrian airspace.
Conflicting reports emerged as to whether Iranian officials granted the extension of an agreement that grants UN nuclear inspectors access to Iran’s nuclear facilities for another month.
The extension is critical for negotiators in Vienna to complete talks on reactivating the broader US-Iran nuclear deal. There were reports that the deal would be extended for a month, but Iranian hardliners contradicted it.
The chief of the UN nuclear inspection, General Rafael Grossi, delayed a press conference on Sunday due to revealing the extension, suggesting that problems with the conditions imposed by Iran persist.
A previous three-month deal expired over the weekend and, without an extension, the Vienna talks would be suspended indefinitely or ended.
The extension would be highly controversial within Iran with the hardliners, who are fighting to win the Iranian presidency in next month’s elections and are determined to show resistance to any compromise with the United States.
The original three-month monitoring agreement between Tehran and the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, gave the inspection limited access to images of Iran’s nuclear sites. The deal was negotiated by Grossi, after the Iranian parliament withdrew from a long-term agreement that gave inspectors almost unlimited access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Iran has been steadily reducing its compliance with the nuclear deal, saying its steps were justified as a response to the US’s full withdrawal from the 2015 deal in 2018.
A one-month extension would give the United States, Iran, and the other five signatory powers to the agreement leeway to try to complete an agreement on how the United States will lift sanctions against Iran and return to the agreement, in turn restoring full compliance. Iran with the deal. . The talks are set to enter what is expected to be their fifth and decisive round this week, with both sides warning that large gaps remain.
If there is no extension, Iran said it could remove video recordings of its sites compiled over the past three months, leaving the IAEA with no information on Iran’s nuclear sites.
In a sign of the tensions within Iran over the extension, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, speaker of parliament and hardliner, said: “As of May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will not have access to the data collected. by cameras within the nuclear facilities agreed in the agreement ”.
It gave the impression that an irrevocable decision had been made on Saturday and was backed by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Yesterday it was discussed and the decision was made. The law approved by parliament will be applied. The supreme leader has also stressed the importance of implementing the law, ”said Qalibaf.
But other unidentified officials said Iran was prepared for a one-month conditional extension.
Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, personally involved in the strategic decision to sign the nuclear deal, said the Vienna talks were going well and said the United States agreed to lift a panoply of sanctions.
The Russian ambassador to the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said “Yes [this news] it is true, it is a positive and necessary step ”.
In December, Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of commissioning the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to produce and store at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium to a 20% purity level each year and increase the enrichment further. beyond 20%, depending on the country. needs. All of these stipulations violate Iran’s obligations under the nuclear deal.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism