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No full access for UN inspectors to nuclear sites after stopgap deal expired – Iranian parliament speaker

The Iranian government must not “compromise the technical achievements of the nuclear industry with its political goals and objectives,” and must implement a law that sets a roadmap for moving away from the international nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian lawmakers said.

This includes barring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from accessing surveillance footage and Tehran’s own records from nuclear sites, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said on Sunday.

“We are determined that the [law] be implemented at specific times,” he said during an open session of parliament. As of May 22, the IAEA “has no right to access the camera footage and information of the Atomic Energy Organization [of Iran].”

Ghalibaf was referring to a law passed by the parliament in December 2020, which instructed the government to take a number of measures to increase the pressure on the other signatories of the JCPOA. The nuclear deal, which was signed under former US President Barack Obama, offered Iran economic sanctions relief and business opportunities in exchange for accepting restrictions on its nuclear industry. The Trump administration withdrew from the agreement and pursued what it called a ‘maximum pressure campaign’, imposing numerous rounds of sanctions on Iran and its trade partners.

Tehran requested that the European signatories shield it from Washington’s pressure, and after finding their response to be unsatisfactory, has gradually reneged more and more on its part of the bargain. The Biden administration said it wanted to return to the agreement, but the talks in Vienna to work out a path to restoring the JCPOA have yet to result in a breakthrough.

The Iranian law set several deadlines by which the government must take steps like installing additional enrichment centrifuges and producing a certain amount of enriched uranium. In February, the Iranian nuclear agency was ordered to suspend the monitoring of nuclear activities by the IAEA under the Additional Protocol.

Just as that deadline approached, Tehran and the IAEA worked out a three-month temporary agreement which limited the UN-backed body’s access to Iranian sites to a level compliant with Iranian law. The agencies agreed to “a temporary bilateral technical understanding, compatible with the Law, whereby the IAEA will continue with its necessary verification and monitoring activities.”

The hope was that the Vienna talks would soon bear fruit, and Iranian lawmakers would agree to reverse the decision. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran may delete the footage and dismantle the cameras after the stopgap deal expires.

“This is not a deadline for the world. This is not an ultimatum. This is an internal domestic issue between the parliament and the government,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in February in an interview with Iranian English-language outlet Press TV, referring to the new law.

The latest deadline set in the law expired on Saturday, and the remarks by the parliament speaker indicate that Iranian lawmakers want to see its provisions implemented, regardless of how it may affect the talks in Vienna.

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