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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Iran allows IAEA to reinstall cameras at Karaj nuclear facility in latest ‘breakthrough’


The cameras were damaged in June during an attack that Iran had blamed on Israel.

Iran and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] reached on agreement on Wednesday over the installation of new surveillance cameras at the Karaj site in the Islamic Republic.

In a statement, the UN nuclear agency said the agreement was reached following talks between the IAEA’s Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Mohammad Eslami.

“The agreement with Iran on replacing surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility is an important development for the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities in Iran. It will enable us to resume necessary continuity of knowledge at this facility,” said Grossi.

The IAEA said that the cameras will be installed “in coming days” and will replace the ones removed from the facility earlier this year.

European officials say nuclear talks ‘reaching end of road’ as Tehran warns of blame game

The installation of the cameras will be carried out before the end of December this year “on a date agreed between the Agency and Iran”.

Under the new agreement, the IAEA and Iran will “work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them” as officials from both sides continue to hold regular meetings.

“[The IAEA] will make available a sample camera and related technical information to Iran for analysis by its relevant security and judiciary officials, in the presence of the Agency inspectors, on 19 December 2021,” added the statement.

The IAEA has been raising particular concern over the lack of access to cameras at the facility in Karaj, which were damaged in June during an attack that Iran blamed on Israel, citing its fervent opposition to the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

In a September deal between the Islamic Republic and the nuclear agency, Iran agreed to grant inspectors access to service monitoring equipment by replacing memory cards for relevant data needed.

Iran allowed the IAEA to access most of its cameras to replace their batteries as well as memory cards, except the ones at the damaged site.

In turn, Tehran has defended its  decision to not grant the nuclear watchdog access to the Tesa Karaj facility saying an investigation over the sabotage was ongoing.

The latest agreement came as indirect talks between the US and Iran take place over the revival of the JCPOA.

The seventh round of talks in Vienna kicked off on 29 November, attended by negotiators from the p4+1 – China, France, Russia, the UK plus Germany.

The indirect US-Iran talks initially started in the Austrian capital in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, but adjourned following the sixth round in June. They were put on hold as Iran’s elections took place, which saw the victory of Ebrahim Raisi.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the JCPOA and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran in bid to apply “maximum pressure” on the country.

Despite unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that took years to reach, the US accused of Tehran of not abiding by its commitments under the JCPOA.

While the Iranian side has been demanding the lifting of sanctions, the Joe Biden administration continued to impose additional punitive measures.

With questions raised over the fate of the talks, the latest agreement is seen as a “real breakthrough”.

“The agreement on Karaj is a real breakthrough. It fully corresponds to the needs of the international community,” tweeted Russia’s envoy at the talks Mikhail Ulyanov.

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