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Iran: No decision on camera deal with UN nuclear inspectors

Image source: AP

Three versions of domestically produced centrifuges are shown on live TV from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran.

The country’s foreign ministry said Monday that Iran has yet to make a decision on whether to renew its agreement with the UN Atomic Energy Observatory on access to video footage at its nuclear facilities.

The statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzade came after a three-month agreement between Tehran and international nuclear inspectors on the preservation of video data at the country’s nuclear facilities, which expired last week after a one-month extension.

“No decision, neither negative nor positive, was taken,” Khatibzade told reporters. “No continuation of the transaction, no deletion (of data). While we are in the same place. “

Earlier this year, Iran began restricting access for UN nuclear inspectors to its nuclear facilities as part of a campaign to pressure the West over its ragged 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran tried to nudge European powers to free themselves from oil and banking sanctions imposed three years ago when then-President Donald Trump pulled America out of a landmark deal.

As part of this effort, Iran has abandoned the agreement’s enrichment restrictions and is now enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, the highest level ever, although it still falls short of 90 percent weapons-grade.

To limit diplomatic damage amid ongoing negotiations in Vienna to reopen the nuclear deal, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency reached an agreement in February on Tehran’s recently imposed inspection restrictions. Iran has promised to keep the video data for later access – but only for three months, after which the authorities threatened to delete the recordings.

Action to remove surveillance footage would sharply heighten tensions, complicating diplomatic efforts to find a way for America to lift sanctions and Iran to restore restrictions on its nuclear program.

Negotiations on a nuclear deal have gained urgency amid the victory in the presidential elections of the tough head of the Iranian judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi.

Although Raisi is known for his hostility to the West, he has pledged to achieve the lifting of sanctions by returning to the nuclear deal.
Khatibzadeh on Monday reiterated that the arrival of a new administration will not affect the negotiations in Vienna, as the ultimate power rests with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Basically, it doesn’t matter under which administration the agreement is concluded,” he said.

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