Iran will allow the United Nations' atomic watchdog to access footage from surveillance cameras at an Iranian centrifuge-parts workshop only after all sanctions against Tehran are removed, the spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said Sunday.
The new condition, announced days after a breakthrough agreement was reached between the IAEA and Iran, has reignited a months-long standoff over access to Iran's Karaj centrifuge workshop.
An initial agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency to replace damaged cameras at the Karaj workshop after an apparent attack there in June avoided a diplomatic escalation that threatened to scupper wider talks on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
In an interview with Fars news agency, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesperson said new cameras will be installed in the coming days, but not before a "technical-security investigation by Iran," who claims the UN's cameras may have been tampered with – a claim the IAEA flatly denies.
One of four IAEA cameras at Karaj was destroyed in the June incident, which Tehran blames on Israel. Iran removed all four cameras and showed them to the IAEA, but the destroyed camera's data storage device was not included.
On Friday, IAEA head Rafael Grossi said he suspects the data may not be missing, even though Iran has not produced it. "We have doubts about that and this is why we are asking, 'Where is it?'" Grossi told a news conference when asked if it was credible that the footage simply vanished.
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"I am hopeful that they are going to come up with an answer because it's very strange that it disappears."
The cameras are aimed at verifying Iran is not secretly siphoning off the parts for uranium-enriching centrifuges that are made there, but the footage will remain under seal in Iran, so the IAEA cannot view it for now, as has been the case at various locations since February.
The IAEA has not been able to verify whether Karaj has resumed operation but Grossi said "it would be a logical conclusion" that advanced centrifuges recently installed at Fordow, a site buried inside a mountain, came from there.
The Iranian nuclear agency's chief, Mohammad Eslami, dismissed the UN agency's concerns over its access to the site. According to Fars, he claimed that "Ill-wishers of the Iranian nation and the Zionists regularly resort to psychological warfare to claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not aware of Iran's activities."