Dec 15, 2021 - World

Iran agrees to renewed inspections as nuclear talks stall

IAEA Director-general Rafael Grossi (L) last month with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Iran has agreed to allow UN inspectors to reinstall cameras at the Karaj centrifuge facility amid the ongoing impasse at the nuclear talks in Vienna.

Why it matters: The Iranian decision came after long and difficult negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and threats by the U.S. and the E3 — France, Germany and the U.K. — to censure Iran at an IAEA board meeting later this month for interfering with inspections.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the agreement would address the concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and allow for renewed cooperation with the IAEA.
  • The agreement is likely to put any plans to censor Iran on hold.

Flashback: An attack in July badly damaged the Karaj centrifuge assembly facility, including the UN inspectors’ cameras.

  • The Iranians blamed Israel for the attack and used it to justify limiting the IAEA's access to the Karaj site and other nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, there has been no real progress in the ongoing talks in Vienna.

  • European negotiators have accused the Iranians of dragging their feet, to the extent that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal may be impossible.
  • Amir-Abdollahian told Iranian media on Wednesday he is optimistic that progress can be made during this round of talks if the U.S. and E3 act realistically.
  • In what seemed to be a message to the Iranian delegation, the Russian lead negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted a photo of a trilateral meeting with the Chinese and U.S. negotiating teams. U.S. officials believe Chinese and Russian pressure could get Iran to move.
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