Iran blocks IAEA nuclear inspections under Additional Protocol following sanctions deadline

A handout picture, released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, of the nuclear water reactor of Arak, south of capital, Tehran. (Via AP)

Iran has stopped the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement that allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out short-notice inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities, following a deadline set by Tehran for the removal of US sanctions.

Talking to reporters, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that the implementation of the Additional Protocol had been stopped as of Tuesday morning.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, also announced late on Monday that all the IAEA’s additional access to the nuclear sites would be halted by midnight.

“As of 12:00 p.m. local time (2030 GMT), we have nothing called obligations beyond the Safeguards Agreement,” he said. “Necessary orders have been issued to nuclear facilities.”

Zarif pointed out that Iran will continue to implement its commitments under the NPT Safeguards Agreements and cooperate with the IAEA.

He explained that footage recorded by cameras at Iran's nuclear sites will now be withheld and no longer shared with the IAEA on a daily and weekly basis as was done in the past.

The foreign minister also noted that Iran will have no official meeting with the US, since Washington is no longer a party to the nuclear deal.

Later on Tuesday, Zarif posted a tweet about the technical understanding reached with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi.

Obliged by law, we halted voluntary implementation of Add'l Protocol.

Fully compatible with JCPOA ¶36 since:
-@POTUS has yet to cease US violation
-E3 continue to fail to meet obligations

Understandings w/ @rafaelmgrossi show our good faith.

All remedial measures reversible.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 23, 2021

The halt came under the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed last December by the Iranian Parliament.

The legislation set February 23 as a deadline for the Iranian government to further scale back compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if the US does not lift its sanctions against the Islamic Republic. 

The withdrawal from the Protocol adds to Iran’s previous steps away from the JCPOA in response to the US’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 and the other parties’ failure to fulfill their commitments. 

Admin. welcomes Leader’s call for unity with Parliament

Additionally, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani on Monday welcomed a call by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for it and the Parliament to resolve their rifts and act in unison regarding the anti-sanctions law.

“Negotiations and agreements between the Islamic Republic and the IAEA have been in full compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the country, in particular the resolution of the 759th session of the Supreme National Security Council. All experts and security officials have acknowledged that they (the negotiations and agreements with the IAEA) were the most efficient and the least costly way to fully implement the Parliament’s resolution,” it said in a statement.

“The goal of the Islamic Republic and the definite plan of the government are to realize the rights of the Iranian people, intelligently and decisively confront the illegal actions and policies of the United States, and lift the cruel and inhumane sanctions against the Iranian nation as soon as possible,” it added.

During a visit by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to Tehran on Sunday, the UN nuclear watchdog struck a three-month deal with Iran.

Under the agreement, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) would continue to use cameras to record information at its nuclear sites for three months, but it would retain the information exclusively. If the US sanctions are lifted completely within that period, Iran will provide the footage information to the IAEA, otherwise it will be deleted forever.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its national and legal duties, is now confident that the law passed by the Parliament has been fully enacted so far while taking into account technical considerations and national interests,” the government statement added.

Jahangiri defends Iran-IAEA deal

In a post on his twitter account, Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said the Iran-IAEA deal is “within the framework of the law and the principles of wisdom, dignity and expediency.”

“Inspections beyond the Safeguards Agreement ended. At the same time, Iran once again showed its goodwill to the world and the IAEA,” he said.

“The art of authoritative diplomacy is to break deadlocks," he added.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has indicated willingness to rejoin the JCPOA, but it has been dragging its feet on taking any meaningful measure to undo the former US government’s wrongs. 

It has conditioned the US’s return to the nuclear accord on Tehran’s resumption of the commitments it has suspended under the JCPOA.

However, Tehran says it will retrace its nuclear countermeasures only after the US lifts its sanctions in a verifiable manner.

US keeps up anti-Iran rhetoric

Addressing the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington is working with allies and partners seeking to “lengthen and strengthen the JCPOA” and address Iran’s regional role and missiles program.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that Iran is “a long way from compliance, and that hasn’t changed.  I said that last week, and many — and I believe my colleague, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, conveyed that just yesterday.  That has not changed. “

The Iranians, she added, “have clearly not taken the steps needed to comply, and we have not taken any steps or — and made any indication that we are going to meet the demands that they are putting forward either.”

Separately, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US is “concerned to hear that Iran intends to cease implementation of the Additional Protocol and other measures this week. We note the announcement that Iran will continue to implement its obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA fully and without limitation, and that the IAEA and Iran have reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding regarding verification and monitoring activities. 

“If Iran returns to full compliance with the Iran deal, the United States would be prepared to do the same. We would then use the JCPOA as a basis for a longer and stronger agreement and negotiate follow-on agreements to cover other areas of concern,” he said.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku