Iran to block inspections by atomic investigators

Iran says it will block UN inspectors next week in move putting pressure on the Biden administration.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior Iranian official said that Iran will block snap inspections of its nuclear sites by the UN’s atomic watchdog agency beginning next week, Radio Free Europe reported Tuesday.

The Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharibabadi, tweeted Monday that Tehran informed the agency about its intentions, saying Iran would carry out a parliamentary bill passed in December to suspend inspections of its nuclear facilities and increase uranium enrichment unless oil and banking sanctions were lifted.

“Act of Parliament will be executed on time (23 Feb) and the IAEA has been informed today to ensure the smooth transition to a new course in due time. After all, goodwill brings about goodwill,” Gharibabadi tweeted.

Last month, Iran carried out the first part of the bill, boosting uranium enrichment to 20% purity in a brazen violation of the 2015 nuclear deal that banned such activities. Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, although after it started producing pure uranium metal that is usable in nuclear weapons, the leading European powers Germany, France and Britain said there is “no credible civilian use” for what Iran was doing.

Angered by the U.S. decision to pull out of the deal in 2018 and reimpose sanctions, Iran has demanded the U.S. unconditionally reenter the agreement and pay it compensation for losses due to the sanctions.

Iran will block the IAEA inspections granted under the nuclear deal that gives it the power to hold “snap inspections” of Iran’s declared nuclear sites.

However, critics of the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have for years pointed out a key weakness in the agreement that blocks the IAEA from conducting snap inspections of Iranian military sites.

American negotiators at the time acquiesced to Iranian demands for a 24-day appeal period before any inspection of a military site,which critics say gives Iran more than enough time to hide any evidence of illegal nuclear activity.

President Joe Biden has said his administration wants to return to the nuclear deal but that Iran must first resume their compliance – a step Tehran has flatly rejected.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh reiterated that Iran would itself return to the deal and cancel its decisions to further enrich uranium and block IAEA inspections if Washington decided to play ball.

“All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations,” Khatibzadeh said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of groups opposed to the Islamic government in Tehran, said the latest moves are part of the campaign by the Iranian government to extract concessions from world powers.

“Since the U.S. withdrew from the deal, the Iranian regime started a nuclear extortion campaign to force the international community to provide mullahs with more incentive packages,” the NCIR said on its website. “The new U.S. administration and Europe should not succumb to the regime’s demands …

“The experience of the last six years makes it abundantly clear that despite reaping the benefits of the nuclear deal, the ruling clerical regime had never stopped its nuclear weapons project.”