Nuclear Monitoring Deal Between Iran, IAEA Has Expired, Says Top Lawmaker

The IAEA said this week it was in talks with Tehran on how to proceed with the monitoring deal

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A number of new generation Iranian centrifuges are seen on display during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran, Iran, two weeks ago.
A number of new generation Iranian centrifuges are seen on display during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran, Iran, two weeks ago.Credit: IRANIAN PRESIDENCY OFFICE/ REU

Iran's parliament speaker said on Sunday that a three-month monitoring deal between Tehran and the UN nuclear watchdog had expired as of May 22, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The comments by Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, aired by state TV, further underscored the narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran. The Islamic Republic is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal.

"From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement," Fars quoted Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf as saying.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had said its director-general would brief reporters later Sunday in Vienna. The United Nations agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under what is called an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, the IAEA “collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras,” the agency said in 2017. The agency also said then that it had placed “2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.”

Iran’s hard line parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories did not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by February. The IAEA struck a three-month deal with Iran to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterward if no deal had been reached.

It wasn't immediately clear if the images from February had been deleted. Before Qalibaf’s remarks, lawmaker Ali Reza Salimi urged an open session of parliament to ensure Iran’s civilian nuclear arm “erased” the images. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran did not immediately comment on the decision.

“Order the head of the Atomic Energy Organization to avoid delay," said Salimi, a cleric from Iran's central city of Delijan. The “recorded images in the cameras should be eliminated."

The IAEA said this week it was in talks with Tehran on how to proceed with the monitoring deal.

Last Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that his country is close to reaching a deal in ongoing nuclear talks with the West, declaring that “we have taken the big step and an agreement in principle has been achieved," according to reports by Iran’s semi-official Mehr and Fars news agencies.

Talks to revive Iran's nuclear deal resumed in Vienna on May 7 with the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – meeting in the basement of a luxury hotel, and the United States based in another hotel across the street.

Iran has refused to hold direct talks with the United States on how to resume compliance with the 2015 deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Tehran to begin violating its terms about a year later.

Rohani also stated that the talks have moved on to dealing with “small details.”

“All parties to the talks have agreed to lift all major sanctions on oil, petrochemicals, shipping, insurance, the central bank and so on,” he said.

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