TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iranian lawmakers protested on Monday against a government decision to permit "necessary” monitoring by the UN nuclear agency for up to three months, saying the move broke a law mandating an end to the agency’s snap inspections this week.
"The government has no right to decide and act arbitrarily,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of the parliament’s national security committee. "This arrangement is an insult to the parliament.”
Iran has been gradually reducing the level of its compliance with a 2015 nuclear pact since then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.
Under the deal, Tehran agreed to voluntarily implement the Additional Protocol, which allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out short-notice inspections.
But Iran’s parliament passed a law last year obliging the government to end implementation of the Protocol from Tuesday if U.S. sanctions are not lifted.
The UN nuclear agency on Sunday said it reached a deal with Iran to cushion the blow of Iran’s reduced compliance and its refusal to permit short-notice inspections.
Under the new agreement, while the number of the IAEA inspectors on the ground will remain the same, Iran has said it will withhold footage recorded by cameras at some of its facilities from the IAEA for the time being, government officials said.
If Washington lifts the sanctions in that period of up to three months, Iran’s IAEA envoy Kazem Gharibabadi tweeted, the Islamic Republic will share the data with the agency.
"Otherwise the data will be destroyed by Tehran forever,” Gharibabadi said on Twitter.
But several prominent lawmakers criticized the agreement, accusing
the government of "bypassing the law”.
The IAEA, in a statement on Sunday, said it would continue "necessary verification and monitoring activities for up to three months”, without specifying what those activities are.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday the agreement is in complete conformity with the law passed by the Iranian parliament.
"What has been done is entirely within the framework of the parliament’s legislation,” he said.
Khatibzadeh said under the agreement, Iran’s voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol will be suspended while some of the IAEA’s necessary verification and monitoring activities will continue for up to three months.
Earlier, Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna dismissed speculations that Tehran had suspended the implementation of the new law.
"The full implementation of the legislation passed by the esteemed Majlis (parliament) is a serious concern of the establishment and no one has the right to neglect it,” Kazem Gharibabadi tweeted on Monday morning.