VIENNA – Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear agency, agreed on Sunday to a new – albeit temporary – verification regime that will be in effect for three months to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program in the face of the suspension of certain aspects of its cooperation with the 2015 international nuclear deal announced by the Islamic Republic starting next week.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, upon his return to Vienna from a two-day visit to Tehran, where he met with Iran’s main nuclear negotiators, announced the accord.
“We will have less access (than now), one must honestly say, but we’re retaining enough access,” Grossi said in remarks to reporters at the Vienna airport.
“What we agreed is something that is viable, it’s useful to bridge this gap that we are having, salvages the situation now,” he added.
Tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and its verification by the IAEA had ratcheted up after Iran passed a law that will enter into effect on Tuesday and which stipulates that Tehran will suspend the so-called “Additional Protocol” of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty if the United States does not lift its sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.
That protocol allows IAEA inspectors to visit and investigate any Iranian nuclear installation, whether civilian or military, without advance notice.
It is a key measure that was incorporated into the 2015 nuclear agreement, signed by Iran and six big world powers, to limit Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of prevailing sanctions on the Islamic regime.
Former US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear pact in May 2018 and Iran a year later began gradually failing to comply with the accord’s basic mechanisms and requirements, above all the limit on uranium enrichment.
Gross emphasized on Sunday that “the law exists and will be implemented,” meaning that “the Additional Protocol will be suspended” by Tehran.
“However, we agreed on a specific bilateral accord to bridge that period in the best possible way without losing the necessary ability to verify,” the IAEA director general said.
Grossi expressed the hope that the US and Iran, in the future, can come to a mutual understanding whereby both can fully return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Recently-inaugurated US President Joe Biden wants to return to the JCPOA but is demanding that Iran first return to compliance with all measures set forth in the pact.
Iran, meanwhile, says that it will only return to the JCPOA once the US lifts sanctions, in particular the oil embargo that has hit the Islamic nation’s economy very hard.