Iran agreed yesterday to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards in surveillance cameras at its nuclear sites and to continue filming, averting a diplomatic showdown this week.
But the announcement by Mohammad Eslami of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran after a meeting with the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, in Tehran will leave the watchdog in the same position it has faced since February.
Tehran holds all recordings at its sites as talks about the United States and Iran returning to the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.
Meanwhile, Iran is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile grows.
Grossi talked of “a very constructive result to do with the agency’s equipment,” but Eslami described the talks as “sheerly technical.”
And left unsaid was whether Iran would hand over copies of older recordings, which Tehran threatened to destroy.
“The memory cards are sealed and kept in Iran according to the routine,” Eslami said.
The deal could buy time for Iran ahead of an IAEA board meeting this week as Western powers argue for Tehran to be censured over its lack of cooperation with inspectors.
The IAEA told member states last week that monitoring activities had been “seriously undermined” since February by Iran’s refusal to let inspectors access monitoring equipment.
The agency had said certain monitoring and surveillance equipment could not be left for more than three months without being serviced.
It was given access this month to four surveillance cameras installed at one site. But one of the cameras had been destroyed and a second one severely damaged.
In Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Nafatli Bennett urged world powers to not “fall into the trap of Iranian deception that will lead to additional concessions.”
“You must not give up on inspecting sites and the most important thing, the most important message, is that there must be a time limit,” he declared.