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UN nuclear watchdog and Iran agree to extend monitoring through June

UN nuclear watchdog and Iran agree to extend monitoring through June
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has announced that Iran has agreed to extend its monitoring deal for one month, allowing it to run until June 24, while negotiations continue over reviving the 2015 nuclear accord.

At a press conference on Monday, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated that the Iranian envoy informed the UN nuclear watchdog on Monday that it will formally extend an initial three-month monitoring deal until June 24.

“I would say that if this understanding was important back in February, it was even in my eyes more important now,” Grossi said in a statement, referring to international concerns about Iran’s increased nuclear activity.

This agreement will allow the watchdog to continue collecting information on the Iranian nuclear program while negotiations continue between the United States and Tehran over restarting the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which grants the IAEA “round the clock access” to continually monitor the country’s nuclear facilities.

The statement from the IAEA’s chief comes less than 24 hours after Iran declared the initial three-month agreement had expired and the watchdog would no longer be granted access to nuclear sites. It’s not clear what sparked Iran’s change of heart.

The IAEA is currently responsible for monitoring 18 facilities throughout Iran and nine other sites to ensure compliance with agreed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program. 

The temporary arrangement between Iran and the IAEA was reached after the Iranian parliament approved a bill to suspend international inspections of its nuclear facilities over America’s failure to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal and Europe’s decision to not ease sanctions on Tehran’s oil and banking sectors.

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Following the IAEA’s announcement, Kazem Gharibabadi, Tehran’s permanent representative to the UN, released a statement on Twitter confirming that an extension had been reached and urging other countries “to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner.”

Iranian officials and Western representatives are currently engaged in negotiations in Vienna in an attempt to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which fell apart following America’s withdrawal in 2018 under the Trump administration. Four rounds of talks have, so far, taken place with both sides stating that progress has been made but there are still important issues that need to be discussed.

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