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Iran still denying inspectors ‘essential’ access to workshop -IAEA report

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flies in front of the U.N. nuclear watchdog (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flies in front of the U.N. nuclear watchdog (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

November 17, 2021

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has still not granted U.N. nuclear inspectors access to re-install surveillance cameras at its TESA Karaj centrifuge-parts workshop, a step “essential” to reviving Iran’s nuclear deal, an International Atomic Energy Agency report said on Wednesday.

With indirect talks between the United States and Iran on reviving the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, due to resume on Nov. 29, the IAEA said its inability to re-install the cameras hindered its task of monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities.

“This is seriously affecting the Agency’s ability to restore continuity of knowledge at the workshop, which has been widely recognised as essential in relation to a return to the JCPOA,” the confidential report seen by Reuters said.

The workshop at the TESA Karaj complex makes components for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium. It was hit by apparent sabotage in June in which one of four IAEA cameras there was destroyed. Iran removed them all, and the footage from the destroyed camera is missing.

TESA Karaj was one of several sites where Iran agreed on Sept. 12 to grant IAEA inspectors access, to service IAEA monitoring equipment and replace memory cards due to fill up with camera footage and other data.

That arrangement helped avoid a diplomatic escalation at a time when talks were paused on reviving the JCPOA, which imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programmes in return for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

Washington pulled out of the agreement under then-President Donald Trump in 2018, and Tehran responded by violating many of its restrictions. Talks to revive it began this year but were paused ahead of elections in Iran which brought a new hardline government to power.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the Karaj workshop resumed production months ago and was supplying Iran’s Fordow site with parts for the advanced IR-6 centrifuge. A senior diplomat said the agency did not know whether Karaj had resumed operating, but said IR-6 parts being used at Fordow appeared to predate the incident.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Peter Graff)

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