Jun 9, 2022 - World

IAEA chief: Iran removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites

A monitoring camera used in Iran is seen during a press conference of Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
A monitoring camera used in Iran is seen during an IAEA press conference of Rafael Gross. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

The Iranian government has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is going to disconnect 27 cameras that have operated since the 2015 nuclear deal at several nuclear-related sites in the country, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said Thursday.

Why it matters: The Iranian decision is seen as retaliation for the IAEA board vote on Wednesday in favor of a resolution calling on Iran to fully cooperate with UN inspectors in the investigation at three undeclared nuclear sites.

  • The move removes all cameras that were installed by UN inspectors as part of the 2015 nuclear deal and effectively ends the agreement's monitoring and verification regime. The cameras that will be disconnected are in centrifuge production facilities, uranium mines and mills and in storage facilities.

Yes, but: The IAEA still has more than 40 cameras that will continue to operate at Iran's uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, Fordow and Isfahan as part of the safeguards agreement.

What they're saying: The removal of the cameras poses a "serious challenge" for UN inspectors' work in Iran, Grossi said at a press conference in Vienna.

  • He added that after the cameras are removed, UN inspectors will have a three to four week window before the IAEA will lose its "continuity of knowledge" about Iran's nuclear program. 
  • "When we lose this, then it’s anybody’s guess...I think it will be a fatal blow" for the efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, Grossi said. 
  • Between the lines: Grossi's claim that the Iranian step could be a fatal blow to the 2015 nuclear deal is based on the fact that the IAEA will lose track over the amount of Uranium and the number of centrifuges Iran has — two central parts to the deal.

Iranian officials did not immediately comment on Grossi's remarks, but had warned Wednesday that Tehran could take additional steps in response to the IAEA censure resolution.

  • "The initiators [of the resolution] are responsible for the consequences. Iran's response is firm and proportionate," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Wednesday.
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