RFL/RE – Tehran has not made a decision yet on prolonging a deal with the UN atomic watchdog over access to surveillance footage at its nuclear sites, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on June 28.
A three-month agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to preserve video footage at the country’s nuclear installations expired last week, following a one-month extension.
“No decision, either negative or positive has been made,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. “Neither the continuation of the deal nor the erasure (of data). We are in the previous position for the time being.”
Khatibzadeh’s statement appears to contradict the position of parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who on June 27 said Tehran will never hand over the images.
“The agreement has expired … any of the information recorded will never be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the data and images will remain in the possession of Iran,” Qalibaf was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency.
The IAEA and Tehran struck the three-month monitoring agreement in February to cushion the blow of Iran reducing its cooperation with the UN nuclear agency, and it allowed monitoring of some activities that would otherwise have been axed to continue.
The agreement, which allowed the IAEA to collect and analyze images from surveillance cameras installed at Iran’s nuclear sites, was later extended for a month until June 24.
Iran and the United States have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six powers that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran’s economy. Tehran reacted by gradually reducing its commitments under the deal.
President Joe Biden has signaled that the U.S. is willing to reenter the agreement if Tehran goes back to strict compliance.
Mahmud Vaezi, chief of staff to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, said last week that the country’s Supreme National Security Council would take a decision on whether to extend the arrangement with the IAEA at its first meeting after the expiration date.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on June 15 that any failure by Tehran to extend the monitoring agreement would be a “serious concern” for broader negotiations.