Iran Confirms End to Snap Inspections as U.S. Seeks to “Lengthen, Strengthen” Nuclear Deal

That deal effectively bought time with inspections continuing as all sides try to salvage the agreement, which was pushed to the brink of collapse when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew nearly three years ago and reimposed tough sanctions.

The United States and other governments have accused Iran of secretly trying to build a nuclear weapons capability, a charge that Tehran has consistently rejected despite years of what the IAEA said was obfuscation and deception.

Khamenei, who has the final say on political and religious affairs in Iran, said on February 22 that “we will act to the point that is needed and the country requires” and that “we could bring enrichment to 60 percent” for a number of purposes.

The Islamic Republic will not back down on the nuclear issue and will strongly continue down the path of what the country requires for today and tomorrow,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

A day earlier Press TV quoted Khamenei as saying that Iran will never move toward the development of nuclear weapons.

The so-called Additional Protocol allows IAEA inspectors to visit undeclared sites in Iran at short notice.

Tehran is demanding that Washington remove punishing sanctions Trump reimposed in 2018, while Washington has called on Iran to first return to all of its nuclear commitments.

Iran must comply with its safeguards agreements with the IAEA and its international obligations,” Blinken said on February 22.

The United States remains committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon,” the top U.S. diplomat said. “Diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal.”

Meanwhile the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth McKenzie, was quoted as warning Tehran against any provocation.

I would think this would be a good time for everybody to behave soberly and cautiously, and see what happens,” McKenzie said during a visit to Oman, according to AFP. “I do believe we will be prepared for any eventuality, however.”

In the standoff, Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament has demanded that the country limit some inspections by the IAEA from February 23.

Grossi hammered out a temporary technical deal with Tehran during his visit, whereby Iran will continue to allow access to UN inspectors to its nuclear sites — but will for three months bar inspections of other, non-nuclear sites.

Grossi said afterwards that the “temporary solution” enables the IAEA to retain “a necessary degree of monitoring and verification work.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said on February 22 that the talks had “resulted in a very significant diplomatic achievement and a very significant technical achievement.”

Khatibzadeh stressed that the outcome was “within the framework of parliament’s binding law.”

Under the agreement reached over the weekend with the IAEA, Iran will temporarily suspend so-called “voluntary transparency measures” — notably inspections of non-nuclear sites, including military sites suspected of nuclear-related activity.

Tehran will for “three months record and keep the information of some activities and monitoring equipment” at such sites, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said.

This means that cameras will keep running at those sites, “but no footage will be given to the IAEA,” Khatibzadeh said.

The footage will be deleted after three months if the U.S. sanctions are not lifted, Iran’s atomic body has said.

This article is reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).