Consolidated Press News File

May 23, 2021

TEHRAN — International monitors will no longer be provided surveillance photos of Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, raising diplomatic tensions in Vienna as world powers work on a deal to save Tehran’s nuclear agreement.

The remarks of Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, broadcast on state television, highlighted the closing window for the United States and others to reach an agreement with Iran.

The Islamic Republic is now enriching and stockpiling uranium at speeds far above those permitted by its nuclear deal signed in 2015.

“Regarding this, and based on the expiration of the three-month deadline, definitely the International Atomic Energy Agency will not have the right to access images from May 22,” Qalibaf said.

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said he would address reporters later Sunday in Vienna.

The IAEA said in 2017 that under an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, it “collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras.”  The organization also stated at the time that “2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment” had been installed.

If European signatories do not have exemptions from oil and banking sanctions by February, Iran’s hardline parliament passed a bill in December that would cancel part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities.  The IAEA and Iran agreed to keep the surveillance photos for three months, with Tehran promising to remove them if no agreement was made.

It was unclear if the photographs from February had been removed.  Prior to Qalibaf’s remarks, lawmaker Ali Reza Salimi called for an open session of parliament to ensure that the photographs were “erased” by Iran’s civilian nuclear force.  Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization did not respond to a request for comment on the announcement right away.

Salimi, a cleric from Iran’s central city of Delijan, said, “Order the head of the Atomic Energy Organization to avoid delay . . . Recorded images in the cameras should be removed.”

It was still unclear what this meant for IAEA in-person inspections.  Iran is subject to IAEA protections at 18 nuclear plants and nine other sites.