VIENNA (Dispatches) -- Iran’s governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says security measures at the country’s nuclear facilities have been reasonably tightened after the UN agency claimed inappropriate security checks of its inspectors.
“Security measures at the nuclear facilities in Iran are, reasonably, tightened,” Kazem Gharibabadi tweeted Tuesday, hinting at repeated acts of sabotage against Iranian nuclear sites in recent years, which have been blamed on Israel.
“The IAEA inspectors have gradually come up with the new rules and regulations,” Gharibabadi added.
The remarks came after The Wall Street Journal quoted diplomats as claiming that Iranian security staff had subjected female IAEA inspectors to inappropriate searches.
In a statement issued in response to the report, the IAEA did not specify the inspectors’ gender but said it immediately raised the issue with Iran.
“Iran has provided explanations related to reinforced security procedures following events at one of their facilities. As a result of this exchange between the Agency and Iran, there have been no further incidents,” the IAEA said.
In 2019, the U.S. reacted with fury to Iran’s blocking of an IAEA inspector who tested positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant.
Gharibabadi said at the time that a detector for explosive nitrates went off when the inspector attempted to enter the facility.
The woman then “sneaked out” to the bathroom while officials looked for a female employee to search her.
After her return, the alarms did not go off again, but authorities found contamination in the bathroom and later on her empty handbag during a house search.
In April, an explosion and power cut at Natanz, which Iran has blamed on the occupying regime of Israel, damaged machines in its main underground uranium-enrichment plant.
The Journal’s report came after the U.S., France, Britain and Germany decided to scrap plans for an anti-Iran resolution at this week’s meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors.
The decision followed a visit by the UN nuclear agency’s Director General Rafael Mariano to Tehran and his meeting with head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Muhammad Eslami.
Following their meeting, Grossi and Eslami issued a joint statement reaffirming the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust.
The two sides announced that they had agreed to allow inspectors to service the agency’s surveillance equipment at nuclear sites.
Eslami on Wednesday clarified that cameras installed in line with the 2015 nuclear deal
will remain down and only those put in place under the safeguards Agreements will be operational.
Eslami explained that apart from its commitments under the safeguards agreements, Iran had undertaken to install a number of other cameras at its nuclear sites in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But since the JCPOA parties failed to honor their commitments, there was no need to those cameras operational.
On Wednesday, Gharibabadi stressed that the Islamic Republic is not indebted to the other parties as it is fully committed to the agreement despite not benefiting from the accord.
Addressing the quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, the ambassador said the U.S. needs to cease its violations of the nuclear deal without preconditions and drop its addiction to sanctions.
The US, he said, violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorses the Iran deal through its withdrawal from the accord, its so-called maximum pressure policy, and reimposition of sanctions
Those measures directly hampered efforts to normalize Iran’s economic ties, which was the main objective of the agreement, he added.
The U.S. violations, Gharibabadi said, have rendered ineffective parts of the agreement, which were supposed to shield business with Iran.
He also expressed regret over the failure of the European sides to find practical solutions to help compensate for the breach of the agreement and criticized them for shifting the blame to Iran for the violation of the deal.
“It is as if these countries have forgotten that it was Iran that complied with all its obligations under the agreement and did not enjoy its benefits due to U.S. law-breaking measures and the Europeans’ inaction. Apparently, these countries seek to replace the victim with the law-breakers,” he said.
Gharibabadi expressed surprise that the Europeans demanded that Iran fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA, while they neither condemned the U.S. for its illegal and unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, nor asked it to lift its sanctions against the Iranian people.
“As long as sanctions continue, do not expect Iran to [show] restraint and [take] constructive action. Our nuclear activities, including enrichment at various levels and production of silicon fuel, carried out based on our right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, are fully peaceful and are surveiled and verified by the Agency under the Safeguards,” he said.
“Therefore, I advise these countries not to play to the gallery and instead fulfill their unfulfilled obligations to the Iranian nation. We are not indebted to you,” he added.
Gharibabadi also pointed to the failure of the Biden administration to overturn the policies of his predecessor, saying it remains to be seen whether the current administration is determined and ready to abandon the U..S addiction to unilateral coercive action, respect international law, fulfill its commitments on sanctions removal in a comprehensive and effective manner, and make the necessary difficult decisions.
“It is crucial that the United States cease to violate its obligations under the nuclear agreement and Security Council Resolution 2231 without further delay or preconditions,” he noted.
On Wednesday, the European Union called the removal of nuclear-related sanctions an “essential” part of the JCPOA, leaving Washington to its own judgment to maintain other coercive measures against the Islamic Republic.
“Alongside the verified full implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments, the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the agreement,” the bloc said in a statement on the IAEA board.
Addressing the board meeting, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, Louis Bono, said the United States was prepared to remove all sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA if Iran resumed compliance with all of its commitments under the deal.
While the U.S. is the only intransigent party through unilaterally abandoning the deal, the American diplomat warned that the opportunity to return to full mutual compliance with the JCPOA “will not last forever.”
“We urge Iran to return to the discussions without delay and refrain from further escalations that will only make continuing our work harder. Iran must move toward, and not away from, the deal with greater urgency,” Bono said.
Since the beginning of the Vienna talks, Tehran has made it clear that it wants all the sanctions imposed on Iran after the JCPOA went into effect in January 2016 removed. The U.S., however, insists that it is willing to remove only those that are inconsistent with the JCPOA.