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Iranian Lawmaker: Nuclear Talks Have Not Yet Reached an Agreement on Surveillance Footage

Iranian Lawmaker: Nuclear Talks Have Not Yet Reached an Agreement on Surveillance Footage

Saturday, 16 April, 2022 - 08:45
Hardline supporters of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard during a rally in Tehran (Reuters)

An Iranian parliament spokesperson affirmed on Friday that Tehran will not hand over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) any footage from its nuclear facilities. They noted that the Vienna talks have not yet reached an agreement on how international inspectors will access surveillance data.

Iran is starting to operate a new workshop at Natanz that will make parts for uranium-enriching centrifuges with machines moved there from its now-closed Karaj facility, the UN nuclear watchdog said in a confidential report on Thursday seen by Reuters.

“On 12 April 2022, the IAEA completed the installation of the surveillance cameras at this location and then removed the seals from the machines,” the IAEA said in the report to member states without describing where at Natanz that location was.

“On 13 April 2022, Iran informed the IAEA that the machines would start operating at the new workshop the same day,” it added, without saying whether it had verified that the machines had started operating.

In an interview with the “DidbanIran” news website, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, the spokesman for Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that all installed cameras are “within the framework of IAEA laws.”

However, he insisted that the cameras be separated into two groups.

According to Meshkini, there are cameras belonging to the IAEA (according to NPT laws), and other cameras set to monitor sensitive Iranian activities as stipulated by the nuclear deal.

For Tehran, IAEA inspectors accessing surveillance footage is contingent on arriving at deal in Vienna, a matter that stumbled last month due to a Russian obstacle before Iran demanding that its elite Revolutionary Guards be removed from the list of terrorist organizations.

Before moving the Karaj parts to Natanz, Iran had also told the IAEA it was moving the Karaj workshop’s activities to another site at Isfahan, and the IAEA has set up cameras there, according to Reuters.

If Isfahan went into operation, that would be a big increase in Iran’s capacity to produce advanced centrifuge parts.

Meshkini’s statements could be an indication that negotiations did not address the technical issues related to the IAEA's verification of Iranian activities.

Washington and Tehran have been trading blame over the failure to reach an agreement at the Vienna talks.

Last week, the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed its doubts about the US’ “will” to reach an understanding.

“We really don’t know if we’ll get a deal or not, because the United States hasn’t shown the necessary will to reach an agreement,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

Two days later, Iran’s supreme leader urged Iranian officials to not tie the country’s affairs to the fate of the negotiations of the nuclear deal.

“Do not wait for an outcome from the nuclear negotiations when planning … do not let your work be disrupted by the negotiations,” state media quoted Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as saying in a meeting with a group of high-ranking officials.

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister said Wednesday that a preliminary agreement has been reached on releasing the Iranian assets currently frozen in a foreign bank due to US sanctions, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian added that a foreign delegation had negotiated on Tuesday with officials from the Central Bank of Iran and the Foreign Ministry to make the arrangements.

An initial agreement has been achieved on the timing and method of releasing the assets, the Iranian foreign minister noted.

For its part, the US said any reports about the release of Iranian funds frozen by third countries are false.

In a press briefing on Thursday, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said US partners have not released any blocked funds to Iran, nor has the US authorized or approved any such funds to Iran.

Price denied “any breakthrough” in two parallel tracks that are underway with Iran – one in Vienna for mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA, and one on the release of all four US citizens who are unjustly held in Iran, cautioning everyone about such reports.

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