Middle East

UN watchdog: Iran defying nuclear deal with uranium enrichment

The UN atomic watchdog on Tuesday said Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in breach of the 2015 accord intended to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.

The uranium could be used to make nuclear weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran had rendered the agency unable to continue with its inspections of the country’s nuclear activities.

“Since 23 February 2021 the Agency’s verification and monitoring activities have been seriously undermined as a result of Iran’s decision to stop the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments” as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the IAEA noted.

Equipment destroyed

The UN agency told members that its ability to properly assess Tehran’s activities was deteriorating and that the situation would continue “unless the situation is immediately rectified by Iran.”

The IAEA said certain surveillance equipment cannot be left for more than three months without being serviced.

The agency was provided with access this month to four surveillance cameras installed at one location, but one of the cameras had been destroyed and a second had been severely damaged, the IAEA said.

US withdrawal left JCPOA vulnerable

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal in 2018, leaving the accord between Iran and the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, plus Germany together with the European Union — hanging by a thread.

Under the accord, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Tehran responded to Washington’s decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions by contravening many of those nuclear restrictions.

Indirect talks between the US and Iran, which took place in Vienna, have halted since Tehran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi took office.

France and Germany have called on Iran to return to the accord and Raisi has said Tehran is ready to do just that, but not if the West continues to apply “pressure.”

US envoy in Europe to discuss Iran

Meanwhile, US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley will visit Moscow and Paris this week for talks on Iran’s nuclear program, the State Department announced on Tuesday.

The talks will cover “Iran’s nuclear program and the need to quickly reach and implement an understanding on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the JCPOA.

Malley is expected to meet Russian officials in Moscow on Wednesday and Thursday, and British, French, German and European Union officials in Paris on Friday.

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