The envoy to Iran of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharibabadi, reported that at midnight on Monday Tehran completed the implementation of the so-called Additional Protocol, which allowed inspections of its nuclear plants without prior notice. On Sunday, the UN and Iran announced an agreement to maintain limited surveillance, but exclude reviews reported on short notice. Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened to increase uranium enrichment to 60%. It takes 90% to create an atomic weapon.
Iran fulfills its threat and exacerbates tension with the West. Since midnight on Monday local time, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ban on inspections at short notice of its nuclear plants came into force, according to the envoy to Tehran of that body of the UN, Kazem Gharibabadi.
The Hasan Rouhani government thus makes its warning in an attempt to pressure the United States and the powers of Europe, with which it signed the 2015 nuclear agreement, to pressure Washington to lift sanctions against it.
Precisely for this Tuesday, the law approved in the Iranian Parliament that stipulates ending the so-called Additional Protocol, which is part of the nuclear pact, was scheduled to come into force and established that IAEA inspectors could make revisions without prior notice. In addition, it occurs the same day that the ultimatum given to the Government of Joe Biden expired or otherwise, they would proceed with the measure.
The state-run daily newspaper #Iran criticized lawmakers who protested the decision to permit “necessary” monitoring by @A inspectors, saying this broke a law passed by parliament in an apparent effort to pressure the #US to lift sanctions.https://t.co/ZSSmMqNXXI
– The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) February 23, 2021
However, hard-line legislators in Iran protested their government’s decision to allow “necessary” monitoring by UN inspectors for a maximum of three months, arguing that this violated the regulations approved in the Legislative . They refer to the agreement announced Sunday between representatives of the Rouhani administration and the UN, to cushion the blow by not allowing unanticipated inspections, although it is not clear exactly what they will have access to.
IAEA President Rafael Grossi said it is a “temporary” solution with a more limited verification regime. “Access will be reduced, let’s not kid ourselves, but we will be able to maintain the necessary level of surveillance and verification,” the official said at the weekend.
For his part, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif assured that the UN watchdog will not be able to access its network of surveillance cameras at nuclear sites. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization promised to keep the images for three months and then hand them over to the IAEA as long as the United States lifts sanctions.
Iran’s supreme leader threatens to enrich uranium by 60%
Hours before the law banning unreported inspections came into force, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to increase uranium enrichment to 60%.
This is a level well above the 3.67% allowed in the nuclear deal, and much closer to the 90% that is needed to produce an atomic weapon.
The Iranian leader thus raises the stakes on US President Joe Biden, who promised to return to the agreement, but said he would not give in to pressure from the Islamic Republic to withdraw the sanctions issued by his predecessor, Donald Trump, if first Tehran does not stop enrich the radioactive element.
The deal has seen breaches from both parties since the United States pulled out of the pact in 2018. Tehran violated its commitment by increasing uranium refining initially to 4.5% and more recently, in January, increasing it to 20%.
Iran is not after nuclear weapons, but its nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either. It will enrich uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country. Iran’s enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.
– Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 22, 2021
“Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, but its nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either. It will enrich the uranium as necessary for the country. Iran’s enrichment level can reach 60% to meet the country’s needs, ”Khamenei said through his Twitter account.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Khamenei’s comments “sound like a threat” and declined to respond to what he described as “hypothetical” positions.
However, he reiterated Washington’s willingness to enter into talks with the Iranian government on the return of both nations to the nuclear pact. But in the midst of this struggle, it is uncertain whether it can be achieved and who will take the first step.
With Reuters and AP