By Syed Zafar Mehdi
TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday a “good agreement” has been reached with the UN nuclear watchdog to address concerns on Tehran’s nuclear program and bolster cooperation between them.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters that the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was reached on Tuesday evening, on the sidelines of Vienna talks.
He stopped short of divulging details, but reports suggest that Iran has agreed to allow the UN agency replace cameras at the Karaj nuclear facility, ending a months-long stalemate.
Nour News, affiliated with Iran’s top security body, confirmed the reports, saying the decision to allow the IAEA to replace cameras at the west Tehran facility came after the completion of “main part of judiciary-security investigations as well as IAEA's condemning sabotage in Tessa complex and accepting technical inspection of cameras by Iranian experts before installation”.
The cameras had been damaged at the facility in the June sabotage attack, which Iran blamed on Israel. Tehran will reportedly keep the footage recorded by new cameras and not allow IAEA access it.
The nuclear facility in Karaj had become a sticking point between Iran and the IAEA. In a report last month, the agency said that it has "not been able to install replacement cameras at the workshop and/or to verify whether the production of centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows has resumed therein."
Hours before the agreement was reached on Tuesday, Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said demands by the IAEA for access to a workshop making centrifuges at Karaj were beyond the ambit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and “not acceptable” to Iran.
Eslami said the monitoring at the facility was tied to the 2015 nuclear deal, and since the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reinstated sanctions, Iran has no reason to cooperate with the IAEA.
The seventh round of Vienna talks that resumed on Thursday after a week-long pause has been marked by both progress and tensions, with both sides mounting pressure on each other.
Iran's lead negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani on Tuesday said any sanctions that are in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal must be lifted immediately.
In a tweet, he said some parties still “persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy”.
His remarks came shortly after E3 (France, UK, Germany) representatives at the talks said they still have not “been able to get down to real negotiations”.
"Time is running out. Without swift progress, in light of Iran’s fast-forwarding of its nuclear programme, the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal) will soon become an empty shell,” they said in a statement.
During a discussion in the UN Security Council on Tuesday, US said it was prepared to lift sanctions against Iran not related to the 2015 deal while urging Tehran to act in "good faith" at the talks.
In response, Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi said talks in Vienna cannot succeed “by setting artificial deadlines, engaging in blame game, threats and intimidation”.