Tehran still hasn’t made up its mind on extending the recently expired monitoring agreement with UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told journalists on Monday.
“No decision has been made yet, either negative or positive, about extending the monitoring deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” Khatibzadeh said during a televised weekly press conference.
Iranian officials said earlier that the country’s Supreme National Security Council is going to decide on the fate of the crucial agreement at its first session after the deal’s expiration.
The IAEA and Iran signed the monitoring agreement after Tehran decided to reduce its cooperation with the UN watchdog in February, so that the agency could keep gathering at least some information on Iranian nuclear activities.
In accordance with the deal, Iran agreed to preserve video data from the country’s nuclear facilities for three months. The pact was later prolonged for another month, but last week it expired, with Tehran ignoring all IAEA offers to extend it once again or sign a new one.
On Sunday, Iran’s parliament speaker, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, claimed that Tehran will “never” share the footage from its nuclear sites with the UN watchdog now that the deal is over. This data will be stored inside Iran in full compliance with the country’s laws, he confirmed.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned last week that Iran’s reluctance to prolong the monitoring agreement with IAEA would be a “serious concern” for the ongoing talks on Washington’s return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal between Tehran and a number of world powers (China, France, Russia, UK, Germany and the EU). The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action saw Iran vastly scale down its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
On Monday, France also urged Tehran to resume cooperating with the UN watchdog, with the country’s Foreign Ministry expressing regret over the lack of confirmation of a monitoring deal with the IAEA from Iran.
Indirect talks on restoring JCPOA – following the 2018 decision by then-president Donald Trump to unilaterally withdraw the US from the deal – have been underway in the Austrian capital, Vienna, since April.
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The negotiations are currently on pause, likely until early July, with Khatibzadeh writing on Twitter at the weekend that officials in Tehran “still believe a deal is possible, if the US decides to abandon Trump’s failed legacy.” However, he warned that “Iran will not negotiate forever.”
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