TEHRAN -- Iran has not made a decision yet about whether to extend an agreement with the UN atomic agency over access to surveillance footage at its nuclear sites, the country’s foreign ministry said Monday.
The remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh come after a three-month deal between Tehran and international nuclear inspectors to preserve video data at the country’s atomic installations expired last week, following a one-month extension.
“No decision, either negative or positive has been made,” Khatibzadeh told reporters. “Neither the continuation of the deal nor the erasure (of data). We are in the previous position for the time being.”
Earlier this year, Tehran began to take decisive steps away from its nuclear obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after the parliament passed into law a strategic action plan intended to counter U.S. sanctions.
Under the law, Iran halted its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol that allowed the IAEA to carry out short-notice inspections of its nuclear sites, denying the agency’s inspectors access to Iran’s nuclear facilities beyond the Safeguards Agreement.
The move prompted IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to personally visit Tehran in late February and reach a technical understanding with Tehran under which Iran agreed to exercise more patience over the promised removal of the U.S. sanctions by keeping the camera recordings from its nuclear sites for three months to see if world powers could convince the US to remove its illegal sanctions.
The agreement expired in May amid diplomatic efforts in Vienna to revive the JCPOA and remove the U.S. sanctions, but the two sides agreed to extend the agreement for another month until June 24.
Khatibzadeh reiterated that Iran has not made a decision on whether to further extend the agreement with the IAEA, noting that the Iranian administration’s duties under the Strategic Action
Plan to Counter Sanctions law are completely clear and the administration has moved in that direction.
The December law is “binding, and the agreement with the agency was to address some of the agency’s concerns within the framework of” the law, he said.
On Sunday, Parliament speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf asserted that “no recorded data will ever be given to the agency and the data will remain in the possession of the Islamic Republic.”
Qalibaf also confirmed that the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions is currently being implemented in full.
Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations said on Friday that the IAEA cannot expect Iran’s extension of the agreement “as something it was entitled to.”
“What Iran is committed to fulfilling are the obligations under Safeguards Agreement, neither more nor less,” Kazem Gharibabadi stressed.
He made the remarks after the IAEA demanded an immediate reply from Iran on whether it would extend the monitoring agreement, to which Gharibabadi responded that Tehran was under no obligation to provide an answer.
During his weekly presser, Khatibzadeh pointed to the failure of the other parties to the JCPOA, in particular the U.S., to make the necessary decisions on saving the deal during the ongoing Vienna talks, whose seventh round is expected to begin soon.
He said if the JCPOA is still alive, it is because of Iran.
“Today, if there is a JCPOA to hold talks on its implementation, it is because of the decision that Iran made after the U.S. withdrawal and the inaction of the other parties,” he said. “Iran and the Iranian people have fulfilled their share of maintaining the JCPOA.”
He also said the U.S. should know that it is present in the talks merely as a perpetrator. “The U.S. has made every effort to destroy the JCPOA. We have witnessed the hypocritical and bullying behavior of the United States,” the spokesman added.
According to Khatibzadeh, Iran has already made its decision on the JCPOA and informed the other parties of it, and is waiting for the other sides, including the U.S., to make their decisions with regard to the 2015 accord.
Iran’s top negotiator to the Vienna talks, Abbas Araqchi, made similar remarks on Sunday.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has already made its tough decision. When the United States quit the JCPOA and Iran decided to stay in it, this was Iran’s big and tough decision, which has to date kept the deal alive.”