The speaker of Iran's Parliament said today that international inspectors may no longer access surveillance images of the Islamic Republic's nuclear sites, escalating tensions amid diplomatic efforts in Vienna to save Tehran's atomic accord with world powers.
Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf's comments, aired by state TV, further underscored the narrowing window for the US and others to reach terms with Iran. The Islamic Republic is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal.
"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. May 22 was yesterday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency had said its director-general would brief reporters later today in Vienna. The United Nations agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Under what is called an "Additional Protocol" with Iran, the IAEA "collects and analyses hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras," the agency said in 2017. The agency also said then that it had placed "2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment".
Iran's hard-line Parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories did not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by February. The IAEA struck a three-month deal with Iran to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterwards if no deal was reached.
It wasn't immediately clear if the images from February have been deleted.
Qalibaf said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state, supported the decision.