Iran has warned the UN’s atomic watchdog that it is removing 27 cameras used to monitor nuclear activity from its facilities, in a dramatic escalation of the Islamic Republic’s standoff with the West.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran’s move could be a “death blow” to stall diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal if measures are not taken. weren’t canceled in three to four weeks. . He added that the removal of the cameras “poses a serious challenge to our ability to continue working there.”
Iran’s move appears to be a retaliatory move after IAEA member states on Wednesday approved a resolution criticizing Tehran for its atomic activity.
“We are in a very tense situation, with the negotiations on the revival of the JCPOA [the 2015 accord] at the lowest, [and] with our bilateral process,” Grossi told reporters. “Now we’re adding this to the picture, so as you can see it’s not very nice.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi promised on Thursday that the resolution would not cause his country to give up its nuclear plans. “In the name of God and in the name of the Iranian nation, we will not back down one step from our positions,” he told a public meeting in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal Bakhtiari. from Iran.
He pointed to the recent seizure of two Greek tankers in Gulf waters, a move that followed Greece’s seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian crude that was under sanctions. “How many times have you [western powers] need to test [the will of] the Iranian nation? . . . Our words are serious.
The resolution, which was adopted by 30 of the 35 IAEA members, underscored the West’s frustration with Iran and concerns about the scale of its nuclear activity.
He said the council “expresses deep concern” about traces of uranium found at three undeclared sites in the republic which have “not been clarified by Iran”. He called on “Iran to act urgently to fulfill its legal obligations and, without delay, [Grossi’s] additional undertaking offer to clarify and resolve all outstanding warranty issues”.
The IAEA’s work in Iran is seen as vital to any chance of reviving the nuclear deal.
Tehran accepted one of the IAEA’s strictest monitoring programs after signing the agreement with the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. But it has been increasingly accused by Western officials of becoming less cooperative with the IAEA as it aggressively increases its nuclear activity.
As part of this agreement, the Islamic regime agreed to limit its nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of numerous Western sanctions. But Tehran has been locked in a standoff with the United States since former President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the deal in 2018 and imposed waves of crippling sanctions on the republic.
Iran responded by expanding its nuclear activity, and it is now enriching uranium to its highest level ever and close to weapons grade.
US President Joe Biden has pledged to join the 2015 accord and remove many sanctions if Iran returns to comply with the accord. But the indirect talks between Washington and Tehran have stalled as the two main protagonists have failed to agree on crucial outstanding issues.
These include Tehran’s demand that the Biden administration remove the terrorist designation on Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful arm of the state security apparatus, which has been imposed by Trump.
Sanam Vakil, an Iran expert at the Chatham House think tank, said it was inevitable that Iran would respond, calling the move “pirate”.
“The thinking in Tehran is that if they don’t react, the goal posts will move and more pressure will come, so it’s a defensive decision,” she added. “At the same time, they consider that causing a crisis is the only way to negotiate immediately or gain more leverage.”
Grossi said removing the cameras would leave about 40 in Iran. These are used to monitor activities including the production of centrifuge parts and research and development. The cameras removed included those at facilities in Natanz, Tehran and Isfahan, he added.
Western powers have warned for months that unless a deal to revive the nuclear deal is reached soon, the deal will become superfluous due to Iran’s level of uranium enrichment.
If diplomatic efforts fail, the United States and its European allies should try to increase pressure on Iran with more punitive measures, which would risk escalating tensions.