Iran to curb cooperation with nuclear watchdog inspectors

Iran informed the agency it would stop implementing ‘voluntary transparency measures’ under the 2015 nuclear deal.

the Natanz uranium enrichment facility
The Gulf nation has increased uranium enrichment levels to 20 percent [Raheb Homavandi/Reuters]

Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to halt snap nuclear inspections outside of its declared sites as of February 23, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said.

Iran informed the IAEA that it “will stop implementing voluntary transparency measures under the JCPOA as of 23 February, including the Additional Protocol”, the IAEA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Additional Protocol of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), allows the watchdog’s inspectors to visit undeclared sites in Iran on short notice.

On Monday, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had threatened it would take such a step if there was no breakthrough in the nuclear dispute with the United States – the lifting of US sanctions – by the end of the month.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran.

One year later, Iran gradually scaled back its commitments under the deal.

The Gulf nation has increased uranium enrichment levels to 20 percent and said it was planning further breaches of its commitments in compliance with December legislation ratified by the parliament.

The bill was passed in the aftermath of the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran in late November.

‘Must lift sanctions’

Earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said if the US wanted Iran to return to its JCPOA commitments, “the US must completely lift sanctions …. and not just verbally, on paper”.

US President Joe Biden wants his country to rejoin the 2015 pact, but he wants Iran to take confidence-building steps first.

During his presidential campaign, Biden had said he hoped to return to the Iran nuclear deal and to bring Tehran back into compliance.

However, since coming into power, Biden’s administration has taken a harder line, saying US negotiators would not engage with their Iranian counterparts until Tehran returns to full compliance.

Source: News Agencies