TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said Sunday the cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency would be shut off to follow a law passed by parliament.
"This is not a deadline for the world. This is not an ultimatum,” Zarif told English-language broadcaster Press TV in an interview aired during IAEA chief Rafael Grossi’s visit. "This is an internal domestic issue between the parliament and the government.”
"We have a democracy. We are supposed to implement the laws of the country. And the parliament adopted legislation — whether we like it or not.”
Zarif’s comments marked the highest-level acknowledgement yet of what Iran planned to do when it stopped following the so-called "Additional Protocol,” a confidential agreement between Tehran and the IAEA reached as part of the nuclear deal. The IAEA has additional protocols with a number of countries it monitors.
Under the protocol with Iran, the IAEA "collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras,” the agency said in 2017. The agency also said then that it had placed "2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.”
In his interview, Zarif said authorities would be "required by law not to provide the tapes of those cameras”.
"The IAEA certainly will not get footage from those cameras,” he said.
Iran’s parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by Tuesday.
As many as 226 MPs on Sunday reminded the government of its obligation to stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol.
"All Iranian officials, including the administration officials, are duty-bound to stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol as of Esfand 5, 1399 (February 23, 2021) and restrict the (International Atomic Energy) Agency’s inspections to those stipulated in the Safeguards Agreement if sanctions are not lifted,” they said.
In a statement, the lawmakers said the Western signatories of the nuclear deal were supposed to treat the Iranian nation with honesty and fulfill their obligations under the accord which they signed in 2015.
"Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified 15 times at various
intervals that Iran has fully implemented its commitments, the enemies of the Iranian people have not fulfilled any of their basic and important obligations,” they said.
Under the deal, all sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil sectors had to be lifted in January 2016 but more restrictions were imposed on the country instead, the lawmakers said.
Iran has taken staggered steps to scale down its compliance under the deal since then-U.S. president Donald Trump abandoned it and hit Iran with sanctions in 2018.
The MPs said Iran’s decision to finally restart enriching uranium to 20 percent purity and set a two-month deadline for the U.S. and the three European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to lift their cruel sanctions was aimed at defending the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights.
Zarif said ending the snap inspections would not mean Iran had abandoned the nuclear deal.
"All our steps are reversible... The move on February 23 is not abandoning the deal,” he said.
Returning to the agreement, he said, will require U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration to take the first steps.
"The United States must return to the deal and lift all sanctions... The United States is addicted to sanctions, but they should know that Iran will not yield to pressure,” he said.
Zarif said that "for all practical purposes” the Biden administration is pursuing the same policy of "maximum pressure” as Trump.
"The U.S. is addicted to sanctions, bullying, and pressure. But it doesn’t work for a country with millennia of history. We have had a global empire that lasted longer than the United States’ history,” he said.
The Americans, he said, have to "open their eyes, make a sober assessment of the past, not only with Trump, and realize that with this country only respect works.”
Zarif said that the United States has not gained any leverage against Iran through its unlawful sanctions, adding that on the contrary the restrictive measures have only helped Iran diversify its economy away from oil.
"Trump left the agreement hoping that Iran’s government would crumble. Now, he’s gone, and we’re still here,” he said. "I think that’s a good lesson. Seven consecutive U.S. presidents are gone. Every one of them wanted to get us out. All of them are out. We’re still here.”