The Lowdown Hub

Iran switches off UN watchdog’s cameras at its atomic sites.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said video sharing was over


Iran will no longer share images of its sensitive nuclear activity with United Nations inspectors, a senior politician has said, straining international efforts to save its non-proliferation deal.

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Speaker of the parliament, said that surveillance video from key sites would no longer be shared with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yesterday the agency was trying to negotiate an extension to continue inspections after an agreement expired on Saturday.

It was considered an important deadline for negotiations between Iran, the United States, Britain and other powers to save the 2015 nuclear deal that was abandoned three years ago by Donald Trump. Under the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran agreed to limit production of enriched uranium and allow monitoring in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Last year MPs passed a law to restrict the agency’s access to military facilities and threatened to end co-operation unless the “maximum pressure” sanctions imposed by Trump were lifted.

Qalibaf said that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, backed the decision to stop sharing surveillance images. However, Iran’s state broadcaster quoted an unnamed official as saying that sharing could continue for another month if world powers met Iran’s “legal demands”.

Iran claims that its economy has lost £715 billion since 2018 under the weight of US sanctions. The rial’s value fell by 80 per cent during the Trump years.

Yesterday blackouts were reported in the provinces of Tehran, Alborz and Khorasan Razavi. They were blamed on drought-reducing hydropower generation and on the electrical demands of cryptocurrency mining, which makes money to ease the impact of sanctions.

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Despite the economic pressure and recent acts of sabotage against its nuclear programme, blamed on Israel, Iran has only increased production of enriched uranium.

Since April diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have joined negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 deal. They are under pressure to conclude before the Iranian presidential elections on June 18, when President Rouhani will be replaced, probably by a more hardline candidate.

Rouhani said last week that President Biden was prepared to lift all of the “main sanctions” against his country.

However, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, cast doubt yesterday on whether Iran would fulfill its side of the bargain by reducing its nuclear activity back to levels agreed in 2015.

“Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer,” he told ABC News.