Iran turns nuclear site cameras off in apparent grievance over censure motion


Iran removed two surveillance cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from one of its nuclear facilities on Wednesday, state TV reported, in a move that is likely to raise tensions with the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

“So far, the IAEA has not only been ungrateful for Iran’s extensive co-operation but has also considered it as a duty. From today, relevant authorities have ordered that surveillance cameras of the Online Enrichment Meter (OLEM) be shut down,” state TV said.

The report did not identify the site. Iran currently is enriching uranium at both its Fordo and Natanz underground nuclear sites.

The United States, Britain, Germany and France angered Iran by submitting to the IAEA’s governing board a draft resolution criticizing Iran for not fully answering the watchdog’s questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites.

The resolution text, seen by Reuters and little changed from a draft circulated last week, will be debated and voted on at this week’s quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

“Iran cannot be co-operative while the IAEA displays unreasonable behaviour. We hope the agency will come to its senses and respond with co-operation with Iran,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi told state TV.

Several diplomats said the resolution was likely to pass easily despite warnings by Iran of retaliation and consequences that could further undermine already stalled talks on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iran’s ally Russia opposes such a resolution.

The draft resolution text that was submitted said the board “expresses profound concern that the safeguards issues related to these three undeclared locations remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive co-operation by Iran, despite numerous interactions with the agency.”

The text also said the board “calls upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfil its legal obligations and, without delay, take up the (IAEA) director general’s offer of further engagement to clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues.”

Talks to renew a nuclear deal on hold

Their aim is to bring both countries back into full compliance with the deal after a U.S. withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions in 2018 prompted Iran to breach many of the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities.

“Those who push for anti-Iran resolution at IAEA will be responsible for all the consequences,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter on Sunday in a message about the talks.

A picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. The United States, Britain, Germany and France have submitted to the UN nuclear watchdog’s board a draft resolution criticizing Iran for not fully answering the watchdog’s questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, Amirabdollahian said any political action by the United States and its three European allies at the IAEA “will undoubtedly be met with a proportionate, effective and immediate response from Iran.”

Iran entered into a multipartite nuclear deal in 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which Iran was granted sanctions relief in exchange for pledges it would limit its enrichment of uranium. In 2018, the U.S. under Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord, to the consternation of European allies who’d also signed on.

Negotiations between Iran and the West to restart the accord have been ongoing since Joe Biden became president, but appeared to have hit a stumbling block in March and have not been resumed.

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