Iran has begun removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites across the country, further reducing the agency’s ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog has said.
Speaking at a press conference in Vienna on June 9, Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the move “poses a serious challenge to our ability to continue working there”.
He added that if an agreement could not be reached to restore the cameras in three to four weeks, “it would be a fatal blow” to the chances of reviving the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers.
“When we lose that, anyone can guess,” he added.
On June 9, Germany, Britain and France urged Iran to “stop its nuclear escalation” and complete the deal currently on the table to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
“There has been a viable deal on the table since March 2022,” they said in a joint statement. “We regret that Iran did not seize the diplomatic opportunity to conclude the agreement. We urge it to do so now.”
Grossi said the removal of the 27 cameras left “about 40 cameras” belonging to the IAEA in Iran to record nuclear activities. They are located in various parts of Iran including Tehran, Natanz and Isfahan.
Iran has not acknowledged that it was removing the 27 cameras, although state media released footage on June 9 of workers disconnecting two IAEA cameras, which the Iranian Organization for Peace said. atomic energy, would be disconnected on June 8.
The organization said it would disconnect the two cameras immediately before the IAEA’s board of governors passes a resolution blaming Iran for failing to explain traces of uranium found at three undeclared sites.
The resolution was approved late on June 8 by 30 IAEA board members, with only Russia and China voting against, while three others abstained.
Grossi has previously criticized Iran for failing to provide “credible information” about unexplained nuclear material discovered at the three sites, which has long been a point of contention between the agency and Tehran.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Iran must cooperate with the IAEA and provide technically credible information in response to questions from the group.
Negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal can only be concluded if Tehran drops its unnecessary demands, Blinken said.
In a statement on June 9, Tehran called the adoption of the resolution a “wrong and unconstructive decision” and accused the UN agency of being “hasty and unbalanced” in its approach.
“The adoption of the resolution will have no other effect than weakening the trend of cooperation and interaction of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the IAEA,” he said.
Later on June 9, President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran would “not take a step back” from its positions, Iranian state media reported.
Senior Iranian nuclear officials had warned that passing the resolution could seriously damage attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Sanctions returned after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the accord in 2018. Talks to reinstate it have stalled since April.
Tehran, which denies its nuclear program seeks to build a bomb, has backed away from some of its commitments since 2019, and European powers have expressed concern over the extent of Iran’s nuclear activities.
Iran has been engaged for more than a year in negotiations with Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China directly – and the United States indirectly – to revive the agreement, officially known as the name Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
A revamped deal was reportedly reached in March, but talks in Vienna then broke down abruptly in April, with Tehran and Washington blaming each other for failing to make the political decisions needed to address remaining issues.
US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on May 25 that prospects for reviving the nuclear deal were bleak. “tiny” at best and that it was more likely than not that the talks would eventually fail.