Iran to Deny IAEA Inspectors’ Access to N. Facilities Under Additional Protocol
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have inked a bilateral technical understanding during IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi’s Tehran visit, whereby the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspectors will be denied access to Iran’s nuclear facilities under the additional protocol to the NPT, although NPT inspections will continue.
Following Grossi’s trip to Tehran, Iran and the UN body issued a statement declaring that Iran will stop its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and will deny IAEA inspectors access to its nuclear facilities beyond the Safeguards Agreement as of February 23, 2021 for three months.
“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) informed the IAEA that in order to comply with the act passed by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran called ‘Strategic Action to Cease Actions and Protect the Interest of Iranian Nation’ Iran will stop the implementation of the voluntary measures as envisaged in the JCPOA, as of 23 February 2021,” the statement read.
“Iran continues to implement fully and without limitation its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as before,” it added.
The two sides have also agreed to a temporary bilateral technical understanding, compatible with the Law, whereby the IAEA will continue with its necessary verification and monitoring activities for up to 3 months (as per a technical annex).
In a separate statement, the AEOI has elaborated the IAEA’s “necessary verification and monitoring activities” in the three-month period.
“The ‘continuation of necessary verification and monitoring activities’ means Iran will record the data of some of its activities and monitoring equipment, and keep them for three months,” the AEOI said, adding, “In this period of time, the IAEA will not have any access to the data recorded by Iran, and they will be exclusively kept in Iran. If the sanctions are fully removed in three months, Iran will share the data with the IAEA; otherwise, it will erase them forever.”
The AEOI statement stresses that the technical annex, which includes a list of Iranian nuclear facilities, will remain confidential due to security considerations and the need for keeping secret the exact location of Iran’s key facilities.
Iran and the IAEA have agreed to “keep the technical understanding under regular review to ensure it continues to achieve its purposes.”
According to an Iranian MP, Iranian legislators in a statement on Sunday stressed the need for the government to stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT.
“Today, over 220 lawmakers prepared a statement in which they emphasized that the parliament’s bill (strategic measure to remove sanctions and support the Iranian nation’s interests) should be implemented on February 23 as agreed before,” Javad Nikbin told FNA.
He added that the statement stresses that the government is not entitled at all to delay implementation of the parliament’s law.
The statement was read by member of the parliament’s Presiding Board Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi.
“After the nuclear deal agreement in 2015, it was hoped that the Western parties, including the US and the three European countries of Germany, Britain and France, would treat the great nation of Iran honestly and fulfill their undertakings. Although the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed 15 times at different periods of time that Iran has fully complied with its undertakings, unfortunately we have seen that the enemies of the dear nation of Iran have not implemented any of their basic and important commitments,” it said.
The statement referred to Iran’s 5-year implementation of the nuclear deal undertakings even after the US withdrawal, and said the parliament decided to approve the important strategic action plan to lift sanctions after the other parties' disloyalty.
“We, the members of parliament, assure the dear people of Iran that we have not made any concessions in defending their rights at all, and we also declare to the enemies of the Iranian nation that, as the Supreme Leader has said, the practical and complete lifting of banking and oil sanctions are among the fundamental conditions of the Iranian nation for the US to return to the nuclear deal and without lifting the cruel sanctions that can be verified by the Iranian nation, Iran will not stop its proud and strong steps of industrial and nuclear progress,” it underlined.
Tehran prepares to stop the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol to the NPT after the US Biden administration refrained from removing the sanctions against Iran in compliance with the terms of UN Resolution 2231 and the nuclear deal.
Yet, Tehran has stressed that IAEA inspections would continue under the NPT similar to the era before the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as Iran is still a signatory to the treaty.
Earlier this week, Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi had said the visit to Tehran by the UN nuclear watchdog chief is aimed at discussing bilateral ties as well as implementation of the Iranian parliament's law to stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements.
Kamalvandi said on Wednesday that Grossi will arrive in Tehran on Saturday evening and will hold meetings with the head and the other officials of the AEOI on Sunday.
He said that the visit is about the method to implement the contents of the February 15 letter of Iran to the Agency about the parliament's strategic law of sanctions removal, adding that it takes place at the request of the IAEA.
Kamalvandi said that the law of the parliament mandates that the government should stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements by February 23.
He added that other issues to be addressed during the visit will be technical issues and cooperation between Tehran and the Agency.
Iran’s Permanent Envoy to the Vienna-based International Organizations Kazzem Qaribabadi announced that Grossi is due to travel to Tehran on Saturday for technical talks.
“The visit will be made at the request of the IAEA director-general and is aimed at technical talks with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran on how to implement the provisions of Iran's February 15 letter to the IAEA and Article 6 of the Strategic Action Law approved by the Iranian Parliament and how to continue cooperation between the two sides within the framework of the new measures and developments,” Qaribabadi said on Wednesday.
Qaribabadi had said on Monday that Iran has informed the Grossi of suspension of the country’s voluntary actions under the JCPOA from February 23, 2021.
The measure is based on the Strategic Action Plan approved by Iran’s parliament and due to the lack of commitment of other JCPOA signatories to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, he added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that his government will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT as of February 21 in compliance with parliament law.
“The law that the parliament has passed on the nuclear issue will be implemented by the government,” Rouhani said, adding, “One of the paragraphs [of the law] reiterates that we should exit from the Additional Protocol as of February 23; and we will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the basis of the Safeguards.”
He stressed that there is no place for weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, in Iran's defense doctrine as the firm view of the establishment.
"We will not look for nuclear weapons, but for the peaceful nuclear technology that is our right," Rouhani went on to say.
Also, on Tuesday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee announced on Tuesday that the country will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT due to the US and other parties’ disloyalty to the nuclear deal.
“Based on the sixth paragraph of the parliament’s bill and given the fact that sanctions have not been removed so far, the government and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) are required to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol which will decrease the supervisions and inspections beyond the IAEA’s safeguards agreements,” Rabiyee told reporters in a press conference.
He noted that the measure does not take time and can be carried out rapidly, but meantime, said Iran is still a member of the safeguards agreements, which means that a major part of the inspections which are not within the framework of the Additional Protocol will continue.
“Therefore, stopping the voluntary implementation of the protocol does not mean terminating cooperation with the Agency. This cooperation will continue and the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely inform the Agency of all its moves in advance in a letter, as has been the case so far,” Rabiyee said.
“It is clear that this new measure is against Iran’s will and was adopted due to the US lagging in lifting sanctions and fulfilling its obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We continue to consider the nuclear deal a creditable agreement and the best possible agreement, and we are ready to immediately reverse all steps taken under paragraph 36 of the nuclear deal to their original status as stated in the nuclear deal provided that the US and other parties to the agreement revive their undertakings,” he added.
Rabiyee expressed the hope that the US and three European members of the nuclear deal (France, Britain and Germany) would take the closing window of opportunity to keep diplomacy alive.
Last month, Iranian Envoy and Permanent Representative to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi underlined that if Biden decides to return to the nuclear deal, Washington should comply with all its undertakings in exact accordance with the internationally-endorsed agreement.
“We make decision and take reciprocal action considering Biden's moves vis a vis the nuclear deal. We have repeatedly demanded the US to return to the nuclear deal and this return should be complete and without preconditions, that is to say, no issue related or unrelated to the nuclear deal should be put forward for discussion,” Takht Ravanchi said.
“It should only be clear that the US international undertakings cannot be half-fulfilled. If they claim to return to the nuclear deal, this return should be accompanied by the full implementation of their undertakings with no hesitation or controversy,” he added.
Takht Ravanchi stressed Iran’s clear position towards the nuclear deal, and said, “We live up to our undertakings.”
He referred to the parliament’s bill to take strategic measures to counter the US sanctions against Iran, and said, “There is a timetable in the parliament’s bill and we are moving in the same direction, so we (at the foreign ministry) are not entitled to specify the period for how long we will wait. In the first place, we make decisions based on national interests, and secondly, we should act on the basis of and within the framework of the parliamentary bill.”
His remarks came after Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the country is at present producing nearly half a kilo of uranium enriched to the 20% purity level, meantime, saying that Tehran’s steps to reduce nuclear deal undertakings after the West’s disloyalties can all be backtracked.
“Based on the latest news I have, they (the Iranian scientists at nuclear installations) are producing 20 grams (of 20% enriched uranium) every hour; meaning that practically, we are producing half a kilo every day,” Salehi said in an interview with the Persian-language Khamenei.ir website released last month.
“We produce and store this 20% (enriched uranium) and if they return to the nuclear deal, we will return to our undertakings too,” he added.
Asked about the recent bill approved by the parliament to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against Iran, Salehi said that the AEOI is required to implement it.
“It is a reality and both the government and the AEOI have declared that they do not have any technical problems with implementation of the parliament’s bill and we launched 20% enrichment within 24 hours,” he said.
Salehi also underlined the need for Washington to remove all sanctions against Iran, specially those which prevent the country’s oil sales and banking transactions.
Iranian legislators had in January praised the AEOI for restarting enrichment of uranium at 20-percent purity level, and called for the full implementation of the recent parliamentarian law to counter the illegal US sanctions against the country.
In a statement, 190 legislators expressed their support for the AEOI’s resumption of 20% uranium enrichment and urged the body to fully and precisely implement the law ratified as a counteractive move to the sanctions illegally imposed on the country, especially those by the United States.
The lawmakers said the parliament approved the ‘Strategic Counteractive Plan for Lifting Sanctions and Safeguarding Rights of Iranian People’ to highlight Iran’s legitimate right to use peaceful nuclear technology and the importance of lifting all cruel sanctions against the country.
The Iranian parliamentarians in a meeting on December 1, 2020 ratified the generalities of a bill to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against the country and defend the nation’s interests.
The lawmakers, in November, had given the green light to the single-urgency of the strategic motion, but the plan turned into a double-urgency on Sunday after the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's car was targeted by an explosion and machinegun fire in Damavand's Absard 40 kilometers to the East of Tehran on Friday November 27, 2020.
Under the bill, the AEOI is required to start in two months after the approval of the present bill to produce at least 120 kg of 20%-enriched uranium annually at Fordow nuclear site and store it inside the country, increase the enrichment capacity and production of enriched uranium to at least 500 kg per month, start the installation of centrifuges, gas injection, enrichment, and storage of materials up to proper purity levels within 3 months, via at least 1000 IR-2m centrifuges in the underground part of Shahid Ahmadi Roshan facility in Natanz, transfer any enrichment, research, and development operations of IR-6 centrifuges to the nuclear site of Shahid Ali Mohammadi in Fordow, and start enrichment operation via at least 164 centrifuges and expand it to 1000 by the end of 20 March 2021 (end of the Iranian calendar year) and return the 40 megawatts Arak heavy water reactor to its pre-JCPOA condition by reviving the heart (calandria) of the reactor within 4 months from the date of the adoption of this law.
Also, the government is required to suspend the nuclear deal-based regulatory access under the Additional Protocol and beyond within 2 months after the adoption of the law based on the articles 36 and 37 of the nuclear deal.
Iran signed the JCPOA with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China — in 2015.
Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.
In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.
Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the US' withdrawal.
On January 5, 2020, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.
Meantime, Biden has recently said in a CNN article that he wants a renegotiation of the contents of the deal before he agrees to rejoin the agreement.
“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote, mentioning that he wants changes to the contents of the nuclear deal and guarantees from Tehran that it would be open for compromise to strike multiple deals over its missile and regional powers as well as a number of other issues that have been the bones of contention between the two sides in the last four decades.
In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had stressed that the US has violated the nuclear deal and is in no position to ask for any conditions for its return to the JCPOA, adding that it's Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the internationally endorsed agreement.
The foreign minister has reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement and give enough insurances that it would not go for initiating the trigger mechanism again before it could get back to the deal.
In relevant remarks earlier this month, Kamalvandi said his country enjoys the capability to produce 120 kg of uranium with 20% purity in 8 months, that's 4 months faster than the one-year period required by a recent parliament approval.
They also recalled and reaffirmed the spirit of cooperation and enhanced mutual trust that led to the Joint Statement in Tehran on 26 August 2020, and the importance of continuing that cooperation and trust.
The agreement was reached following Rafael Grossi's visit to Iran, during which he held separate meetings with Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian vice-president and AEOI chief, as well as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Earlier on Sunday, Zarif said that the Islamic Republic will be open to negotiations on reviving the historic 2015 nuclear accord once all signatories begin fulfilling their obligations.
Iranian lawmakers on Sunday once again highlighted the necessity of stopping voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if the sanctions remain in place.