“I am happy to say that today we were able to have a very constructive result, which has to do with the continuity of the operation of the agency’s facilities here,” Grossi said. It “is essential for us to provide the guarantee and the necessary information to the IAEA and to the world that everything is in order”.
Eslami described the negotiations between Iran and the Vienna-based IAEA as “purely technical” with no place for politics. He said Grossi would return to Iran soon to speak with officials, without further details. It was also not said whether Iran would hand over copies of the older recordings, which Tehran had threatened to destroy previously.
“Memory cards are sealed and kept in Iran on a routine basis,” Eslami said. “New memory cards will be installed in the cameras. This is a common and natural trend in the agency’s surveillance system.
A joint statement issued by the IAEA and Iran confirmed the deal, saying only that “the manner and timing is agreed upon by both sides.”
The announcement could save Iran time ahead of an IAEA board meeting this week in which Western powers pleaded for Tehran to be censored for its lack of cooperation with international inspectors. Eslami said Iran will participate in this meeting and its negotiations with the IAEA will continue there.
The IAEA told member states in its confidential quarterly report last week that its verification and surveillance activities have been “seriously compromised” since February by Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors access to their surveillance equipment.
The IAEA has said that some control and surveillance equipment cannot be left without maintenance for more than three months. She had access this month to four surveillance cameras installed at one site, but one of the cameras was destroyed and a second was severely damaged, the agency said.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russian Ambassador to the IAEA, hailed the deal on Twitter, calling it “technical but very important.”
“It is no less important for Iran to push back against baseless speculation against it,” Ulyanov wrote.
Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear deal in 2015, which saw Tehran significantly limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal, which raised tensions across the Middle East and sparked a series of attacks and incidents.
President Joe Biden has said he is ready to re-enter the deal, but so far indirect talks have yet to be concluded. Meanwhile, Iran has elected Ebrahim Raisi, an outright protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to the presidency. Raisi also said he wanted Iran to regain the benefits of the deal, although Tehran in general has taken a tougher pose since winning.
In Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Nafatli Bennett urged world powers not to “fall into the trap of Iranian deception which will lead to further concessions” on the impasse. Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, has long accused Iran of looking for an atomic bomb. Tehran maintains its agenda is peaceful, although US intelligence agencies and international inspectors believe the Islamic Republic pursued the bomb as part of an organized program until 2003.
“You don’t have to give up on site inspections and the most important thing, the most important message is that there has to be a time limit,” Bennett said. Iran “is lagging behind, we have to set a specific deadline that says: so far”.
The Prime Minister added: “Iran’s nuclear program is at the most advanced point of all time. … We have to manage this project.
Israel is suspected of launching multiple attacks targeting the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, as well as killing a scientist associated with Iran’s unique military nuclear program last year.
From Riyadh, top diplomats from Saudi Arabia and Austria have jointly expressed concern over Iran’s nuclear advances, with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg citing “Iran’s failure to allow access to nuclear inspections “.