Friday December 3rd, 2021 5:46AM

UN nuclear chief says Iran to grant 'less access' to program

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will begin to offer United Nations inspectors “less access” to its nuclear program as part of its pressure campaign on the West, though investigators will still be able to monitor Tehran's work, the U.N. atomic watchdog's chief said Sunday.

Rafael Grossi's comments came after an emergency trip to Iran in which he said the International Atomic Energy Agency reached a “technical understanding” with Tehran to continue to allow monitoring of its nuclear program for up to three months. But his remarks to journalists underlined a narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran, which is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“The hope of the IAEA has been to stabilize a situation which was very unstable," Grossi said at the airport after his arrival back in Vienna, where the agency is based. "I think this technical understanding does it so that other political consultations at other levels can take place and most importantly we can avoid a situation in which we would have been, in practical terms, flying blind.”

Grossi, the IAEA's director general, offered few specifics of the agreement he had reached with Iranian leaders. He said the number of inspectors on the ground would remain the same but that “what changes is the type of activity” the agency was able to carry out, without elaborating further. He stressed monitoring would continue "in a satisfactory manner.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who under President Hassan Rouhani helped reach the atomic accord, said the IAEA would be prevented from accessing footage from their cameras at nuclear sites. That came during a state TV interview Sunday even before his meeting with Grossi.

“This is not a deadline for the world. This is not an ultimatum,” Zarif told the government-run, English-language broadcaster Press TV. “This is an internal domestic issue between the parliament and the government.”

“We have a democracy. We are supposed to implement the laws of the country. And the parliament adopted legislation — whether we like it or not.”

Zarif's comments marked the highest-level acknowledgement yet of what Iran planned to do when it stopped following the so-called “Additional Protocol,” a confidential agreement between Tehran and the IAEA reached as part of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. The IAEA has additional protocols with a number of countries it monitors.

Under the protocol with Iran, the IAEA “collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras,” the agency said in 2017. The agency also said then that it had placed “2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.”

In his interview, Zarif said authorities would be “required by law not to provide the tapes of those cameras.” It wasn't immediately clear if that also meant the cameras would be turned off entirely as Zarif called that a “technical decision, that's not a political decision.”

“The IAEA certainly will not get footage from those cameras,” Zarif said.

Grossi didn't address Zarif's camera remarks Sunday night, but stressed that European and U.S. leaders needed to salvage the situation through negotiations.

“What we have agreed is something that is viable. It is useful to bridge this gap," Grossi said. "It salvages this situation now, but, of course, for a stable, sustainable situation there will have to be a political negotiation and that is not up to me.”

There are 18 nuclear facilities and nine other locations in Iran under IAEA safeguards.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. unilaterally out of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying it needed to be renegotiated.

Even as Iran has backed away from restrictions of the deal since then to put pressure on the other signatories — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — to provide new economic incentives to offset U.S. sanctions, those countries have insisted it's critical to keep the deal alive so that inspectors are able to continue to verify Iran's nuclear activities.

From Washington, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden remained willing to negotiate with Iran over a return to the nuclear deal, an offer earlier dismissed by Zarif.

“He is prepared to go to the table to talk to the Iranians about how we get strict constraints back on their nuclear program," Sullivan told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” "That offer still stands, because we believe diplomacy is the best way to do it.”

On U.S. citizens being held by Iran, Sullivan added: “We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state TV late Sunday night responding to Sullivan that “there are no direct talks between Iran and the U.S. in any field.” However, Khatibzadeh said the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which has looked out for American interests in the decades since the 1979 hostage crisis, has passed messages between the countries on prisoner issues since Biden took office.

Grossi met earlier Sunday with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's civilian nuclear program.

Iran’s parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by Tuesday.

Already, Iran has slowly walked away from all the nuclear deal's limitations on its stockpile of uranium and has begun enriching up 20%, a technical step away from weapons-grade levels. It also has begun spinning advanced centrifuges barred by the deal, which saw Iran limit its program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

An escalating series of incidents since Trump's withdrawal has threatened the wider Mideast. Over a year ago, a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general, causing Tehran to later launch ballistic missiles that wounded dozens of American troops in Iraq.

A mysterious explosion also struck Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, which Iran has described as sabotage. In November, Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who founded the country's military nuclear program some two decades earlier, was killed in an attack Tehran blames on Israel.

Zarif brought up the attacks in his interview with state TV, saying the IAEA must keep some of its information confidential for safety reasons.

“Some of them may have security ramifications for Iran, whose peaceful nuclear sites have been attacked," Zarif said. “For a country whose nuclear scientists have been murdered in terrorist operations in the past — and now recently with Mr. Fakhrizadeh — confidentiality is essential.”


Jon Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and David Rising from Berlin. Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report from Washington.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP World News - International incidents
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
UN nuclear chief says Iran to grant 'less access' to program
The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says that Iran will begin offering its inspectors “less access” but will still allow the agency to monitor its atomic program
3:56PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Dickinson's 22 lifts No. 3 Michigan over No. 4 Ohio St 92-87
Hunter Dickinson had 22 points and nine rebounds and Eli Brooks scored 17 as No. 3 Michigan held off No. 4 Ohio State 92-87
3:30PM ( 46 minutes ago )
The Latest: Grieving Italians mark a COVID-19 anniversary
Italians are marking one year since their country was shocked to discover it had the first known locally transmitted COVID-19 case in the West
3:24PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Myanmar protest plan for general strike draws junta threat
A call for a Monday general strike by demonstrators in Myanmar protesting the military’s Feb. 1 seizure of power has been met by the ruling junta with a thinly veiled threat to use lethal force, raising the possibility of major clashes
2:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
Beyond 100M: Biden team aiming for bigger vaccine numbers
One month into Joe Biden's presidency, the government is on a glide path to reach his initial goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office
2:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
In Israel and beyond, virus vaccines bring political power
Forget about oil and arms
1:54PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Cyprus activists: Hunters' lead pellets threaten flamingos
Conservationists in Cyprus are urging authorities to ban hunting along the southern edge of a salt lake wetlands amid concerns that migrating flamingos could ingest lethal quantities of lead shotgun pellets
9:49AM ( 6 hours ago )
Cloud 9: Djokovic wins 9th Australian Open, 18th Slam title
Novak Djokovic has beaten Daniil Medvedev in three sets to win his ninth Australian Open championship and 18th Grand Slam title
9:11AM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Djokovic says he did tear muscle in Australia
Novak Djokovic says he did tear an abdominal muscle in his third-round match at the Australian Open
8:31AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Arkansas' GOP governor says he won't back a Trump 2024 bid
Arkansas' Republican governor is making clear he won't back Donald Trump if the former president runs for the White House in 2024
2:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
Garland says laws must be 'fairly and faithfully enforced'
President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general says the Justice Department must ensure laws are “fairly and faithfully enforced," while reaffirming an adherence to policies to protect the department’s political independence
10:31PM ( 17 hours ago )
Impeachment vote becomes defining moment for GOP senator
Seven Republican senators voted to convict Donald Trump at his impeachment trial, but it was North Carolina’s Richard Burr who was the most unexpected “guilty” vote
5:30PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
New legislation would protect drivers who hit protestors
When massive demonstrations against racial injustice erupted across the nation last summer, protesters often swarmed onto roads or highways to draw attention to their cause
11:26AM ( 1 day ago )
Thailand's prime minister survives no-confidence vote
Thailand’s prime minister has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament amid allegations that his government mismanaged the economy, bungled the provision of COVID-19 vaccines, abused human rights and fostered corruption
10:17AM ( 1 day ago )
Maryland police reform would repeal officer job protections
For more than seven years, Tawanda Jones has held weekly vigils to protest the death of her brother, who died after a struggle with Baltimore police in 2013
9:36AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Tanzania's president admits country has COVID-19 problem
Tanzania’s president is finally acknowledging that his country has a coronavirus problem after claiming for months that the disease had been defeated by prayer
11:28AM ( 4 hours ago )
Tunisian doctor plays violin to boost virus patients' morale
When Dr. Mohamed Salah Siala began working on the COVID-19 front line in January in a Tunisian hospital he never imagined harnessing his music skills in the fight against the virus
10:42AM ( 5 hours ago )
Sudan announces managed currency float to revive economy
Sudan has announced a managed floating exchange rate system and sharply devalued its currency
8:49AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP World News
Doctor says 5 killed in Somalia's election-related violence
A health worker in Somalia’s capital says at least five soldiers were killed and more than a dozen people, mostly civilians, were wounded in violence related to protests over the country’s delayed election
8:54AM ( 1 day ago )
6 months later, China says it lost 4 soldiers in India clash
China's military says four of its soldiers were killed in a high-mountain border clash with Indian forces last year
6:56AM ( 2 days ago )
China says it lost 4 troops in 2020 India border clash
China's military says four of its soldiers were killed in a high-mountain border clash with Indian forces last year
6:27AM ( 2 days ago )
AP World News - International incidents
Dickinson's 22 lifts No. 3 Michigan over No. 4 Ohio St 92-87
Hunter Dickinson had 22 points and nine rebounds and Eli Brooks scored 17 as No. 3 Michigan held off No. 4 Ohio State 92-87
3:30PM ( 47 minutes ago )
The Latest: Grieving Italians mark a COVID-19 anniversary
Italians are marking one year since their country was shocked to discover it had the first known locally transmitted COVID-19 case in the West
3:24PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Libyan interior minister survives attack on motorcade
A Libyan official says the motorcade of the interior minister of the U.N.-backed government came under attack on Sunday in the capital, Tripoli
3:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Shockers solidifying shaky spot in NCAA Tournament field
Wichita State's revamped team is not only cruising along at 13-4 and 9-2 in the American Athletic Conference, it jumped into first place Thursday night with a 68-63 win over sixth-ranked Houston
2:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hospitals confront water shortages in winter storm aftermath
Hospitals across the South are grappling with water shortages as the region carries on with recovery efforts in the wake of a devastating winter storm
2:56PM ( 1 hour ago )