Blinken Pushes Iran to Reverse Decision to Remove Cameras; Warns of ‘Political Isolation’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Iran’s decision to remove nuclear monitoring equipment after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution critical of the country could lead to “deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation.”
Blinken’s comments come after Iran this week began removing cameras and other technical equipment at its enrichment facilities which were installed by the IAEA as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Blinken further warned Iran to table any “additional demands” which he said were not relevant to the Iran deal.
“Unfortunately, Iran’s initial response to the Board’s action has not been to address the lack of cooperation and transparency that prompted a negative report from the IAEA Director General and such strong concern in the Board, but instead to threaten further nuclear provocations and further reductions of transparency, “he said. “Such steps would be counterproductive and would further complicate our efforts to return to full implementation of the JCPOA.”
Iran’s move comes in response to the passage of a resolution drafted by the United States, France, Britain and Germany, and voted on by the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, criticizing Tehran for its continued failure to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites.
Iran had informed the agency Wednesday that it planned to remove 27 IAEA cameras and other equipment, which was “basically all” the extra monitoring equipment installed under the 2015 deal, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters earlier this week.
Blinken, however, emphasized that the IAEA’s resolution was part of the organization’s mandate and reflected “Iran’s core obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Nuclear observers with the IAEA now have a window of opportunity of three to four weeks to restore some of the monitoring that is being scrapped or else the IAEA will lose the ability to piece together all or essentially all Iran’s most important nuclear activities and material, Grossi said.
“I think this would be a fatal blow (to reviving the deal),” Grossi said of what would happen if nothing were done within that window of opportunity.
Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 deal are already stalled and have not been held since March.
Since then-President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran in 2018, Iran has breached the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities, enriching uranium to close to weapons-grade, using more advanced centrifuges and swelling its stock of enriched uranium.
While Western powers warn it is getting ever closer to being able to sprint towards making a nuclear bomb, Iran denies having such intentions.
As part of its erosion of the deal’s nuclear measures, Iran had already held onto the data recorded by the extra monitoring equipment since February of last year, meaning the IAEA can only hope it will be able to access it at a later date. Grossi said it was not clear what would happen to that data now.
He added, however, that more than 40 IAEA cameras would continue to operate as part of the core monitoring of Iran’s activities that predates the 2015 deal.