clearn.png
Monday March 1st, 2021 11:48PM

EXPLAINER: Iran restricts UN atomic agency to pressure West

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran will begin restricting the ability of United Nations nuclear inspectors to monitor Tehran's nuclear program. It's part of the Islamic Republic's efforts to pressure European nations and the U.S. into providing the sanctions relief it received under its collapsing 2015 deal with world powers.

Full terms of the restrictions remain unclear. But any limit on the ability of inspectors to keep track of Tehran's program raises the risks surrounding what has become one of the Middle East's most sensitive issues since then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018.

Meanwhile, an interim deal reached this weekend between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency allowing inspectors to continue their work for up to three months will expire in the middle of campaigning for Iran's next president. That adds uncertainty for the West on who it will see across the table in any negotiations — and what they can expect.

HOW IS IRAN LIMITING INSPECTORS?

Iran's parliament passed a bill in December requiring the government to limit its cooperation with the IAEA and push its nuclear program beyond the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal. After being modified by a constitutional watchdog under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the bill became law. Iran then began enriching uranium up to 20% purity, a technical step away from weapons-grade levels, and spinning advanced centrifuges — things both barred by the deal.

Iran then threatened, citing the bill, to withdraw from its “Additional Protocol” with the IAEA, a confidential agreement granting the U.N. inspectors enhanced powers to visit facilities and watch Iran's program. IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi traveled to Iran over the weekend to negotiate.

Grossi offered few details on how access was limited on his return to Vienna, though Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the IAEA would be blocked from accessing its network of surveillance cameras at nuclear sites. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Tehran's civilian nuclear agency, published a statement early Monday in Farsi clarifying that it would keep the footage for three months, then hand it over to the IAEA if granted sanctions relief.

"Otherwise, it will be deleted forever," the agency said.

Grossi said the IAEA will continue to have the same number of inspectors on the ground. However, blocking access to IAEA cameras means the agency can't monitor Iranian actions when those inspectors aren't physically at a site.

The new agreement between the IAEA and Iran also affects inspectors’ ability to conduct so-called “snap” inspections of nuclear sites, Grossi said. The director-general suggested some form of such inspections would continue to be allowed, though “not the same” as before. He didn’t elaborate further and Iran hasn’t explained the change.

WHY IS IRAN DOING THIS?

After facing years of what the Trump administration described as a maximum-pressure campaign, Tehran now wants to leverage its own pressure on European nations and President Joe Biden, who has said he's willing to return to the nuclear deal. The sanctions it faces lock it out of international financial markets and bar it from selling its crude oil abroad. Iran's economy has cratered in the meantime as inflation remains unchecked and its rial currency suffers. The coronavirus pandemic has only worsened those woes.

So far, the first weeks of Biden's administration have seen him focus largely on U.S. domestic matters while signaling a willingness to redeploy American troops in the Mideast elsewhere to counter China and Russia. Restricting IAEA inspections, a cornerstone of ensuring Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, provides Iran a way to grab the West's attention.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NEGOTIATIONS?

Iran insists it wants a return to the 2015 nuclear deal as is. However, provisions of the accord already have begun to expire, such as a restriction on Iran's ability to buy arms from abroad. That has worried Iran's Gulf Arab neighbors, who long have been suspicious of the Islamic Republic's regional intentions.

Biden, while saying he wants to return to the deal if Iran complies with its terms, also has pledged to counter what he described as “destabilizing activities” in the region.

Iran's ballistic missile program, its support of regional militias and other concerns were not part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Obama administration at the time said it hoped the deal would lead to further agreements with Iran. Trump cited their absence in part as his decision to withdraw from the accord. Trying to bring that into negotiations — or trying to include Gulf Arab countries or Iranian archrival Israel in those talks — could derail them before they begin.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

The longer negotiations go on, the higher the likelihood the faces on Iran's side of the table will change. Iran faces a presidential election in June and a public disenchanted with President Hassan Rouhani and his allies who struck the accord. Rouhani, a cleric who is a relative moderate in Iran's theocratic government, is term limited from running again. While Khamenei has final say on all matters of state, those elected in Iran do affect the country's policy.

Without success at the negotiating table, Iran could bar IAEA inspectors or withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. North Korea, which now has nuclear weapons, is the only country to ever withdraw from the treaty. Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. However, Iran’s intelligence minister warned in February that the West could push it toward building a nuclear weapon.

If Iran moves toward seeking an atomic weapon, that also could invite military action from Israel, which has twice bombed Mideast nuclear facilities in the past to block Iraq and Syria from obtaining the bomb. Already, an Iranian nuclear facility suffered a sabotage attack and a scientist was gunned down in an assault last year, incidents Tehran blamed on Israel.

___

Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
EXPLAINER: Iran restricts UN atomic agency to pressure West
Iran will begin restricting the ability of United Nations nuclear inspectors to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program
8:11AM ( 6 minutes ago )
William says hospitalized grandfather Prince Philip is 'OK'
Prince William says his grandfather Prince Philip is “OK” as the 99-year-old royal consort remains under in a hospital for rest and observation
7:44AM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Hard-hit French region faces weekend lockdowns
A region in southeast France is adding daytime weekend lockdowns to the 12-hour nightly curfew already in place seven days a week to slow a surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospital resources
7:23AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Uganda's Wine withdraws court challenge to election results
Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine says he will withdraw a legal petition that sought to overturn the victory of President Yoweri Museveni in last month’s presidential election
5:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
Garland to focus on civil rights, political independence
President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general is set for his confirmation hearing vowing to prioritize civil rights, combat extremist attacks and ensure the Justice Department remains politically independent
5:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden to boost pandemic lending to smallest businesses
President Joe Biden is targeting federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses and taking steps to further equity in what is known as the Paycheck Protection Program
5:15AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
UN nuclear chief in Iran as it threatens watchdog's cameras
The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog is meeting with Iranian officials in a bid to preserve his inspectors’ ability to monitor Tehran’s atomic program
1:38PM ( 18 hours 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 ( 1 day 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 ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Pubs, haircuts, gyms must wait as UK lifts lockdown slowly
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is setting out a road map for lifting one of Europe’s strictest national lockdowns — but millions of Britons longing for a haircut or an evening out still face a long wait
5:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: COVID-19 hospitalizations plummet after jabs
Researchers in Scotland say its COVID-19 vaccination program has led to a sharp drop in hospitalizations
5:45AM ( 2 hours ago )
Protests swell after Myanmar junta raises specter of force
Protesters have gathered in Myanmar's biggest city despite the ruling junta's threat to use lethal force if people join a general strike opposing the military's takeover
5:00AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
Survey: German business optimism up despite pandemic burdens
German businesses are a bit more optimistic despite the pandemic
5:08AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Young children return to school in Germany
Elementary schools and kindergartens in more than half of Germany’s 16 states have reopened after two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic
4:25AM ( 3 hours ago )
Global shares mostly lower as investors wary over stimulus
Global shares are mostly lower as investors warily await progress on U.S. economic stimulus
4:15AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
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
6:10PM ( 14 hours 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 ( 17 hours ago )
Tennessee races to repair broken water mains in storm's wake
Workers in Tennessee are racing to fix water mains that failed in freezing temperatures as the South carries on with efforts to recover from the winter weather that paralyzed parts of the nation
1:00PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Suspected hypothermia deaths in homes mount in Texas
With the snow and ice clearing in Texas after days of unusual cold, authorities are finding the bodies of people who likely froze to death as they struggled to stay warm after electricity was cut to millions
1:55PM ( 1 day ago )
US sanctions over pipeline from Russia deemed lacking by GOP
The Biden administration has added a layer of sanctions to a Russian vessel and the shipowner for their work on a new gas pipeline from Russia that is strongly opposed in the U.S. and eastern Europe
11:00PM ( 2 days ago )
Southern cities hit hard by storms face new crisis: No water
Southern U.S. cities slammed by winter storms that left millions without power for days have traded one crisis for another
7:50PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
William says hospitalized grandfather Prince Philip is 'OK'
Prince William says his grandfather Prince Philip is “OK” as the 99-year-old royal consort remains under in a hospital for rest and observation
7:44AM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Hard-hit French region faces weekend lockdowns
A region in southeast France is adding daytime weekend lockdowns to the 12-hour nightly curfew already in place seven days a week to slow a surge in coronavirus infections that is straining hospital resources
7:23AM ( 55 minutes ago )
Boeing: 777s with engine that blew apart should be grounded
Boeing has recommended that airlines ground all of 777s with the type of engine that suffered a catastrophic failure over Denver this weekend
7:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Hamas-ruled Gaza launches coronavirus vaccination drive
The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has begun its coronavirus vaccination drive following the arrival of the first vaccines to the blockaded coastal area
7:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pubs, haircuts, gyms must wait as UK lifts lockdown slowly
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is setting out a road map for lifting one of Europe’s strictest national lockdowns — but millions of Britons longing for a haircut or an evening out still face a long wait
6:55AM ( 1 hour ago )