Iran’s nuclear program will continue to be subject to inspections over the next three months by theInternational Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA and Iran have reached a temporary agreement to continue inspecting the country’s nuclear activities. This agreement could perhaps pave the way for the resumption of nuclear negotiations between Washington and Tehran.
Iran’s nuclear programme on hold
Iran’s nuclear program can be monitored by the IAEA as provided for in the Iran Nuclear Treaty. Rafael Grossi, the director general of the IAEA, announced that a temporary technical agreement was reached on Sunday with Iran. Tehran had announced last week a limitation of the facilities accessible to nuclear inspectors. This announcement had led to fears of more difficult control by experts on site.
Rafael Grossi stated:
“This is not a replacement for what we had before. It’s a temporary solution that allows us to continue to give the world assurances about what’s going on there.”
Surveillance and limited access to facilities
This temporary agreement maintains oversight of Iran’s nuclear activities. However, it will be limited. Rafael Grossi assures that :
“Access will be reduced, let’s face it, but we will be able to maintain the necessary degree of oversight and auditing.”
Thus, the same number of international inspectors will remain in Iran. However, their access to nuclear facilities will be limited. They will also no longer be allowed to conduct last-minute “snap inspections.”
Hope for resumption of Iran nuclear talks
As part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, IAEA observers were initially granted expanded inspection rights. This agreement is designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In exchange, the sanctions on the country are eased.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump considered the agreement too generous for Tehran. As a result, he decided to leave it in 2018. In response, Iran has gradually reduced its commitments to the agreement. This includes enriching its uranium to higher levels than agreed.
Washington takes a step towards Tehran
Newly elected Joe Biden has already said he is ready to return to the 2015 agreement. However, the United States and Iran are passing the buck on who should make the first move. Finally, Washington accepted, on Thursday 18 February, an invitation from the Europeans to participate in talks on the subject.
On Sunday, February 21, Javad Zafir, Iranian Foreign Minister said:
“Once everyone has done their part and fulfilled their obligations, then there will be a resumption of discussions.
Here he points to the responsibility of the unilateral American withdrawal from the agreement. Since then, the re-establishment of sanctions is strangling the Iranian economy.
In fact, since 2019, Iran has been breaking free of several limits the agreement places on its nuclear program. This agreement with the IAEA thus allows time to resume negotiations between countries that signed the 2015 agreement. With the arrival of the Biden administration in the White House, everyone hopes for a clarification of the respective positions.