Iran, IAEA make deal to keep cameras in nuclear sites

Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency extend deal on surveillance cameras at Tehran’s atomic sites by one month.

Elad Benari , | updated: 5:05 AM

Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located
Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on Monday to a one-month extension to a deal on surveillance cameras at Tehran’s atomic sites, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi told journalists the agreement came after a discussion with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

He acknowledged that challenges remain, however, as the agency still can’t access images taken by its cameras.

“I’d want to stress this is not ideal,” Grossi said, according to AP. “This is like an emergency device that we came up with in order for us to continue having these monitoring activities.”

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, acknowledged the deal on Twitter. He said Tehran’s civilian nuclear agency, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, would keep the material already recorded by the IAEA cameras.

“We recommend the negotiating countries to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner,” Gharibabadi wrote.

Under a confidential agreement called an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyzes images from a series of surveillance cameras installed at Iranian nuclear sites. Those cameras helped it monitor Tehran’s program to see if it is complying with the nuclear deal.

In February, however, Iran ended the implementation of the Additional Protocol, as part of its scaling back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

The IAEA struck a three-month deal with Iran in February to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterward if no deal had been reached.

Monday’s announcement comes as negotiations continue in Vienna to see if both the US and Iran can re-enter the 2015 deal.

The US and European Union both said recently that more work was needed to revive the 2015 deal, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress."

Iran has demanded that the US lift all the sanctions it has imposed on the Islamic Republic as a condition for it resuming compliance with the deal.