Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenReuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday criticized Iran’s removal of cameras that monitor its nuclear program, saying the move will "further complicate" efforts to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and could lead to "a deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation for Iran."

In a statement quoted by CNN, Blinken accused Iran of threatening "further nuclear provocations" and making "further reductions of transparency."

He called such steps "counterproductive and would further complicate our efforts to return to full implementation" of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"The only outcome of such a path will be a deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation for Iran," continued Blinken. "We continue to press Iran to choose diplomacy and de-escalation instead."

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said earlier Thursday that Iran will "basically" remove all cameras installed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The move comes a day after Iran was censured by the IAEA's Board of Governors for not fully cooperating with the nuclear watchdog.

A State Department spokesperson noted to CNN that Iran has not yet taken the steps to remove the 27 cameras that are used to monitor nuclear facilities. But that if Iran does follow through, it will create complications for returning to the deal, they said.

While Blinken on Thursday blamed Iran for the fact that there is not yet an agreement to revive the deal, he continued to express an openness to salvaging the nuclear agreement.

"The United States remains committed to a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA. We are prepared to conclude a deal on the basis of the understandings we negotiated with our European Allies in Vienna over many months. Such a deal has been available since March, but we can only conclude negotiations and implement it if Iran drops its additional demands that are extraneous to the JCPOA," Binken said, according to CNN.

Iran condemned the resolution passed by the IAEA, calling it a "political action, incorrect and unconstructive."

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday his country's response to the resolution would be "firm and proportionate” and added that "the initiators are responsible for the consequences.”

Meanwhile on Thursday, the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement in which they urged Iran to end its “nuclear escalation”.