Iran set to restrict IAEA access to nuclear sites : Regulation & Safety

Ruben Fields
February 19, 2021

The officials said the US had reversed travel restrictions that the Trump administration had put in place on Iranian diplomats at the United Nations.

Earlier on Thursday, the E3, the three European participants in the deal, and the United States released a joint statement warning Iran against going through with that step.

Biden, who was vice president when Barack Obama's administration negotiated the deal in 2015, indicated during his campaign that he would seek to rejoin the agreement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff at the US State Department during the first visit by US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2021.

Former President Trump pulled the USA out of the agreement in 2018, arguing that it doesn't do enough to limit Iran's support for terrorist groups or its ballistic missile program.

New fears were sparked last week following warnings from the United Nations nuclear watchdog that Iran had started producing uranium metal in a new violation of the JCPOA accord.

In a sign the Europeans are keen not to alienate Tehran even as they embrace the new Biden administration in Washington, European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday spoke by phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Then in August previous year former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had triggered a 30-day process at the Security Council that led to the return of United Nations sanctions on Iran and stopped a conventional arms embargo on Tehran from expiring on October 18.

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"These activities have no credible civil justification", it said, "Uranium metal production is a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon". Director General Grossi has offered to travel to Iran in order to find a mutually agreeable solution for the Agency to continue essential verification work.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that Iran's recent steps were endangering the prospect of the United States returning to the deal, warning that Iran was "playing with fire".

But Iran has stepped up its nuclear work in violation of the accord after U.S. sanctions were reimposed as part of Trump's "maximum pressure" policy to weaken the Iranian regime.

"Secretary Blinken reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end", it said. "Remove the cause if you fear the effect", he continued.

The US unilaterally quit the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed sanctions against Tehran, prompting the latter to announce that it will gradually abandon its obligations under the deal, first of all, those regarding levels of uranium enrichment. "We did not think that in America a insane person would be elected and start a historically incomparable war against the nation", said Rouhani, referring to the crippling economic sanctions as an "economic war".

Ellie Geranmayeh, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Washington should use this "short window of time" to move to show Iran that the Biden administration "is distancing itself from Trump-era maximum pressure".

The diplomats also expressed concern about human rights violations in Iran and its ballistic missile program. Remember the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.

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