TEHRAN, Iran (February 23, 2021) — State TV says Iran officially has begun restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, a bid to pressure European countries and U.S. President Joe Biden's administration to lift economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
The report Tuesday gave little detail beyond confirming that Iran had made good on its threat to reduce cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
Iran has said it plans to cease its implementation of the "Additional Protocol," a confidential agreement between Tehran and the IAEA reached as part of the landmark nuclear accord. It grants the U.N. inspectors enhanced powers to visit nuclear facilities and watch Iran's program.
Iran's move to limit international inspections underscores the daunting task facing Biden as he seeks to reverse Trump's policies and return to the deal, the most significant pact between Iran and major world powers since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
"The law has gone into effect from this morning," said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, reiterating that Iran would no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the U.N. agency.
"We never gave them live video, but (recordings) were given daily and weekly," Zarif said of the IAEA's access to information recorded by camera monitors. "The tape recording of our (nuclear) program will be kept in Iran."
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Tehran's civilian nuclear agency, has promised to preserve the tapes for three months, then hand it over to the IAEA — but only if granted sanctions relief. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the tapes, narrowing the window for a diplomatic breakthrough.
The Biden administration has said it's ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the deal. Zarif responded to the overture cautiously on Tuesday, saying that Iran is "assessing the idea of an unofficial meeting" with the parties to the accord "in which America is invited as a non-member."