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IAEA access to Iranian nuclear sites has expired, official says

With the expiration of the deal between Tehran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the access of the agency has ended, but an extension is possible, the Iranian official said.

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The Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf announced that the three-month deal that allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access the Iranian nuclear sites images has expired, and that the agency’s access has ended. The statement came during the speaker’s interview that he gave to state-run TV on Sunday.

In his statement, Speaker Qalibaf said that “From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement.”

On the other hand, state TV reported, based on an unnamed official who is a member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, that the agreement between Tehran and the agency could be extended for a month under some conditions. The official also stated that the related data could be transferred to the agency if the extension is provided and major powers accept Iranian demands. “Otherwise, the images will be deleted forever,” the official added.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, is in talks with Iranian officials on extending the monitoring agreement. Failing to reach an agreement to extend the arrangement could severely harm the ongoing negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, western diplomats familiar with the matter have said.

Last week, the fourth round of the talks in Vienna was completed with significant advances, the reports indicated. On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the US agreed to lift sanctions imposed on Iran. He also reiterated his country’s commitment to continue the talks in Vienna “until reaching a final agreement.”

Yet, negotiators, including the head of the Iranian delegation, said earlier this week that some key issues that need further discussion still exist between the parties before reaching a final agreement.

Last year, the Iranian parliament adopted a law that terminates Iran’s obligation to allow the IAEA to monitor Tehran’s nuclear sites. The decision came to put pressure on the Biden administration to ensure its return to the nuclear pact. However, the IAEA and Tehran agreed in February to maintain “necessary” monitoring activities in the Islamic Republic.

Parliament Speaker Qalibaf said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also supported the law. In his statement, Qalibaf stated that “Yesterday, it was discussed, and the decision was made. The law passed by the parliament will be implemented. The Supreme Leader has underlined the importance of implementing the law as well.”

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