EghtesadOnline: Inspections chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Massimo Aparo, is set to visit Iran this week for “routine safeguards activities,” and no particular talks have been arranged in advance, according to Iran’s ambassador to the agency.
“The purpose of the visit is in line with routine safeguards activities in the context of the [Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement],” Kazem Gharibabadi said in a tweet.
He added that despite Iran’s continuous contact with Aparo, who is also a designated inspector, no talks have been pre-planned during his visit.
The IAEA senior official’s visit comes amid uncertainties over a temporary monitoring deal with Iran.
Iran stopped voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the CSA in February which stipulates enhanced access to nuclear sites and snap inspections by the IAEA. The move was in line with its steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal in response to the United States’ exit and reimposition of sweeping sanctions.
It, however, reached a three-month technical understanding with the IAEA, under which Iran retained video footage of its nuclear sites exclusively, only to share them with the agency if US sanctions were removed completely and verifiably within that timeframe. Otherwise the data would be deleted forever.
The agreement was extended for a month, but eventually expired on June 24 amid diplomatic efforts in Vienna, Austria, to revive the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The IAEA demanded an immediate response from Iran in late June on whether it would extend the agreement.
Gharibabadi later said Iran’s decision to keep the data was out of “political considerations” and “solely based on good will, and not as part of its obligations toward the agency.”
“Iran is not bound by any commitment to implement the agency’s demand,” he added.
Possible Negative Effects
Russia’s top negotiator in Vienna hoped at the time that Iran would soon answer positively to the agency’s demand, saying it would allow to “avoid uncertainties which can have unjustifiable long- lasting negative effects.”
Mikhail Ulyanov later highlighted the importance of continued contacts and dialogue between Iran and the IAEA, especially at this stage when a full restoration of JCPOA and sanctions lifting can be expected soon.
He said under the current circumstances, it is important to ensure that video cameras at nuclear sites continue to work and video records are preserved.
“This will allow to avoid problems in future,” he said in a tweet on Saturday.
The Vienna talks to bring the US and Iran to full compliance have progressed well over six rounds, but are currently paused as both sides need to make important political decisions.
A senior US State Department official said last month that not extending the IAEA agreement would make it “that much more complicated” to get back into the deal.
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken also said Washington has serious concerns about the lapse in the agreement, and those concerns have been shared with Iran.
Meanwhile, an Iranian official has told CNN that Iran has no intention of destroying the surveillance footage at the nuclear sites as long as the talks in Vienna are continuing, adding that Tehran has decided to keep the footage hidden from the IAEA right now because they are allowing the diplomacy to proceed.
The Iranian official also pushed back on any idea that preventing IAEA access right now could possibly prevent a deal, citing the fact that the IAEA would eventually be able to see the entire footage once a deal that brings the US back into compliance with the JCPOA is agreed to.