Iran, U.N. watchdog agree to 1-month extension for nuclear plant inspections

Don Johnson
An IAEA inspector examines equipment inside the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Iran, in 2014. File Photo by Kazem Ghane/IRNA/UPI
An IAEA inspector examines equipment inside the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Iran, in 2014. File Photo by Kazem Ghane/IRNA/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- Iran and international inspectors have agreed to extend limited monitoring of Iran's nuclear program by one month, U.N. watchdog officials said Monday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters that the new "stop gap" deal will now expire June 24 and expressed hope that it would lead to greater access in the future.


Iran officials said Sunday that a three-month monitoring deal with the IAEA had expired and inspectors could no longer access images from inside some Iranian nuclear sites. The parliamentary speaker indicated that the deal might not be renewed.

Grossi said the new deal allows surveillance images from the nuclear sites to remain in IAEA custody. Some in Tehran had demanded that the images be deleted.

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Grossi said the extension is important since activities in Iran's nuclear program have increased since February.

"I want to stress this is not ideal," Grossi said.

"This is like an emergency device that we came up with in order for us to continue having these monitoring activities while at the same time recognizing the fact that ... there was a law passed by the Islamic Republic of Iran suspending a number of rights."

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International inspectors say an "additional protocol" with Iran allows them to verify that nuclear materials in Iran's program are for peaceful use. The IAEA collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images of Tehran's nuclear program taken by surveillance cameras.

Iranian Parliament adopted a bill late last year suspending inspections if European sanctions were not lifted by February. The inspectors and Iran reached the three-month extension for 18 nuclear facilities, which expired Friday.

Meanwhile, talks are set to resume in Austria this week about a return of the United States to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

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This month, a senior U.S. official said the United States and Iran could return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by June 18, and said that decision is up to Tehran.

Iran has demanded that the United States lift new sanctions that were imposed after former President Donald Trump left the pact in 2018.

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