Feb. 22 – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that it has entered into a provisional arrangement with Iran for its inspectors to retain access to track the country’s nuclear activities, possibly establishing the conditions for restarting talks between the United States and the Middle Eastern nation on a nuclear agreement.IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told reporters Sunday that a ‘technical agreement’ had been reached with Iranian officials to continue nuclear verification and monitoring activities.
“This is a temporary solution that allows us to continue to give to the world assurances of what is going on there with the hope that we can return to a fuller picture,” Grossi told reporters after returning from Iran on Sunday night during a brief press conference outside the Vienna International Airport.The announcement of the agreement and the trip of the IAEA to Iran took place a week after Tehran warned on Sunday that it would stop enforcing the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, which provides inspectors with an enlarged collection of instruments to verify the peaceful use of nuclear materials.
If the United States does not return to the nuclear deal of the Obama period, other participating countries will not start to live up to their commitments.Two months after its Parliament passed a law to speed up the construction of its nuclear program, which included restricting access to inspectors, Iran announced the ultimatum if, by Sunday, the signatories of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union—have not returned to full enforcement.
In Sunday’s agreement between the IAEA and Iran, Tehran stated that it would allow the necessary verification and monitoring activities of IAEA inspectors for up to three months, in compliance with the newly adopted law.Grossi clarified that the Additional Protocol is not retained by the agreement and that inspectors will have less access, but that their technical agreement prevents them from being blind to what is happening in Iran.
Grossi stated that the arrangement could be extended but that it could also be terminated at any moment, with the latter hoping that Iran would wish to return to the Additional Protocol.The head of the nuclear watchdog made no reference to any other country by name, but expressed his hope that this agreement would be stabilized by the IAEA in an uncertain situation, so that other political consultations could take place at other levels.
In May 2018, former President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of the JCPOA, calling it flawed, and slapped the Middle Eastern nation with sanctions.Following that decision, a so-called maximum pressure campaign was carried out by the Trump administration, led by the State Department, with sanctions at its heart to push Iran back to the negotiating table on a new agreement.In response, Iran has repeatedly reneged on its JCPOA commitments.
Ties between Washington and Tehran fell to a record low under the previous administration, which included maritime skirmishes and the assassination of military leader Qassem Soleimani by the United States in a January 2020 drone attack.On Jan. 11, 2020, when Iran, in a heightened state of alert after firing multiple missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the death of Soleimani, shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet leaving Tehran airport, killing all 176 on board, relations between the two sank to their lowest level in decades.
President Joe Biden, who took office last month in the White House, said he would rejoin the pact, but only if Iran returned to its obligations for the first time. National security advisor Jake Sullivan told CBS News’ State of the Union on Sunday that Biden is ready to speak to Iran about returning to strict compliance with the JCPOA.That offer is still in effect because we think that diplomacy is the best way to do it,”That offer still stands because we believe diplomacy is the best way to do it,” “Iran has not yet responded.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told state-run Press TV on Sunday that while Biden has ended his predecessor’s rhetoric, the U.S. is continuing Trump’s plan.”Nothing has changed,” he said. “Biden claims that Trump’s policy of maximum pressure was maximum failure … but for all practical purposes, they are pursuing the same policy.”