Iran-IAEA Agreement

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached an agreement with Iran on Sunday to resolve the “most pressing issue” of both parties, namely the overdue maintenance of monitoring equipment to keep the monitoring equipment running. This sparked hopes of new negotiations between Iran and Western countries on a broader agreement. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited Tehran at the last minute before its 35-member council meeting this week and reached what he called a “constructive” agreement. Western powers previously threatened to seek a resolution at this IAEA board meeting, criticizing Iran for obstructing IAEA.

Such a resolution raises the danger of escalation with Tehran and is expected to restart deeper implicit discussions between Iran and the United States on the resumption of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. The Iran nuclear agreement aims to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied its intention to develop nuclear weapons. US-Iran indirect discussions ceased in June, and Iran’s hard-line president Ebrahim Raisi took office in August. Western powers urged Iran to return to negotiations, saying that time is running out because the progress of its nuclear program far exceeds the limits set by the Iran nuclear agreement. 

Enrique Mora, the EU coordinator for nuclear negotiations, said on Twitter that the agreement “provides space for diplomatic work,” adding that it is vital to resume negotiations as soon as possible. In addition to monitoring the scope of Iran’s core legal obligations to the IAEA, the 2015 agreement also monitored additional areas of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran said in February that it would abandon compliance with additional areas of monitoring. These areas cover uranium enrichment machines parts, manufacturing of centrifuges, etc.

If there is no monitoring in these areas, Iran may secretly remove an unknown amount of equipment and materials for nuclear weapons. Grossi had previously reached an agreement with Tehran to continue maintaining these types of equipment, but Iran later gave up this approach. The monitoring equipment must be repaired every three months to ensure that the memory card is not full and the monitoring is not blank. The three-month period had elapsed more than two weeks ago, and an agreement was reached about time constraints.

Grossi said that the agreement provides the IAEA with the necessary technical means. Grossi further added that repairs to the monitoring equipment would begin “within a few days,” adding that even the cameras that were damaged and removed from the centrifuge workshop will be replaced, which was suspected of being deliberately damaged in June.