Iran threatens to end some nuclear inspections next week

Iran reiterated its warning on Monday that it will suspend certain nuclear inspections if other parties to the 2015 agreement, which restricts the country’s nuclear program, “fail to meet their obligations” by February 21.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Iran would end its compliance with the “additional protocol” to the nuclear deal, which mandates intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities.

“All of these measures are reversible, provided the other parties honor their commitments,” said ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, according to the official IRNA news agency.

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The Iranian envoy from the International Atomic Energy Agency said the UN watchdog had been informed of the move.

Parliament’s law will be executed on time (February 23) and the IAEA was informed today to ensure the smooth transition to a new course in due course. After all, goodwill creates goodwill!

– Gharibabadi (@Gharibabadi) February 15, 2021

A draft law passed by the conservatively dominated legislature in December despite opposition from a reformist government calls on the government to suspend the “implementation of the additional protocol” to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on February 21. Unless the US lifts unilateral sanctions or other key parties to the deal with Iran, you are not helping Tehran circumvent those sanctions.

Currently, such inspections are in addition to the regular IAEA inspections under this Protocol. Iran is threatening the latter to continue, but the former to stop.

Khatibzadeh’s warning came just days after the IAEA confirmed that Iran had started producing uranium metal, in yet another violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Uranium metal can be used as a component in nuclear weapons. Iran had signed a 15-year ban on the “manufacture or acquisition of plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys” under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), which was signed with the world powers in 2015.

On February 3, 2007, an Iranian technician walks through the uranium conversion plant at the gates of the city of Isfahan, 410 kilometers south of the Iranian capital Tehran. (Vahid Salemi / AP)

Iran previously informed the UN nuclear watchdog that it was promoting research into uranium metal production and intended to provide advanced fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.

European parties to the nuclear deal said Iranian uranium metal production had undermined the chances of fully implementing the agreement to reduce sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

The landmark agreement between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany to contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions has largely been shattered since former US President Donald Trump withdrew and imposed harsh sanctions in 2018.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to revert to the deal if Iran returns to compliance. Both sides have requested that the other act first to get back on the deal and put them in a stalemate for the time being.

Recent violations against Iran have included exceeding the inventory limit for enriched uranium, enriching beyond allowable purity and using more advanced centrifuges than allowed under the agreement.

The agencies contributed to this report.

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