VIENNA (Dispatches) -- The UN nuclear agency has demanded an immediate reply from Iran on whether it would extend a monitoring agreement that expired overnight, prompting an Iranian envoy to respond that Tehran is under no obligation to provide an answer.
“An immediate response from Iran is needed in this regard,” the IAEA said in a statement summarizing a report by its chief Rafael Grossi to its 35-nation Board of Governors.
Grossi wrote to Iran last week “to understand Iran’s position regarding the possible continued collection, recording and retention of data”, the report said.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, “said that Iran was not required to comply” to the IAEA head’s request.
Back in February, Iran stopped the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Treaty, which stipulates enhanced access to nuclear sites and snap inspections by the IAEA.
At that time, the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding, under which the latter would continue to use cameras to record information at its nuclear sites for three months, but it would retain the information exclusively.
The understanding expired in May amid diplomatic efforts in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran and the IAEA agreed to extend the understanding for a further month until June 24 allowing the agency to continue necessary verification and monitoring work in the country.
Gharibabadi said, “Data recording was a political decision by Iran to facilitate, including, the political talks and to help its success and shouldn’t be considered as obligation in relation with the Agency.”
“Since Iran is continuing the implementation of its CSA, continuation or discontinuation of recording has nothing to do with Iran’s safeguards obligations. Undoubtedly, any decision to be taken by Iran in this regard, would only be based on its political considerations, and the Agency cannot, and should not, consider it as something it was entitled to,” he added.
The Iranian envoy also criticized Grossi for reporting to members of the IAEA’s Board of Governors, saying that the Agency has no obligation to report on the expired joint understanding as well as data recording.
“What Iran is committed to fulfill are obligations under Safeguards Agreement, no more or less,” he said.