Iran Agrees to Keep Surveillance Cameras Running for the UN’s Nuclear Watchdog
Head of the AEOI, Mohammad Eslami (left), addresses reporters in Tehran on Sunday. Beside him is IAEA boss Rafael Grossi Image: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Handout
On Sunday, Iran announced that it would allow the UN nuclear watchdog to change the memory cards on the surveillance cameras that it uses to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites. This is a small step back towards cooperation. However, it could prove a key move in unblocking attempts to restart the Vienna talks that aim to end the worldwide sanctions reimposed after Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the JCPOA in May 2018. Since February 2021, frustrated with the lack of progress in those talks, Iran’s nuclear authorities stopped implementing commitments to the JCPOA. Notably, from July, UN inspectors were refused access to the monitoring equipment that they use to watch Iran’s facilities. Since then, Iran has transitioned to a new government that is often thought by Western analysts to be more ‘hard-line.’
Last week, however, Iran’s new Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced that the country now welcomed a resumption of the Vienna talks. Then on Sunday (September 12), the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, came to Tehran for talks at the invitation of the new chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami. The agreement between the two men seems to represent a positive start for Eslami, who has only been in the post since August 29, though he stressed that the meeting had been purely on non-political technical matters. It’s interesting to note that in the 1970s, Eslami studied for several years in the US, gaining a masters in civil engineering in Ohio. He later did an MBA in global aviation management before rising to become head of Iran’s aircraft manufacturing company.
Meanwhile, Kazem Gharibabadi, the man in charge of Iran’s political dealings with the institutions in Vienna, tweeted news of the positive results of the Tehran meeting, which he considered reaffirmed a spirit of cooperation and mutual trust.
and the IAEA DG will also visit Tehran in the near future to hold high level consultations with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Iran and the IAEA in different fields and discussing current issues of mutual interest.3— Gharibabadi (@Gharibabadi) September 12, 2021