On Tuesday, Iran began suspending the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Additional Protocol which will restrict the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) access to Iranian nuclear sites. The IAEA also confirmed this week that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is now more than 14 times the limit set out in the JCPOA.
The E3 (UK, Germany and France) have expressed “deep regret” at Iran’s “dangerous” suspension of the Additional Protocol and verification measures of the faltering JCPOA nuclear deal, while Iran’s Supreme Leader has threatened that nothing could “stop us” getting a nuclear weapon.
This latest Iranian breach of the nuclear deal will significantly reduce the IAEA’s ability to inspect Iran’s nuclear activities – a fundamental requirement of the JCPOA.
Iran’s latest act of non-compliance is being interpreted as an effort to pressure the United States, United Kingdom and European nations to lift economic sanctions.
It is understood that Iran will deny IAEA inspectors access to view surveillance cameras at nuclear sites, but an agreement was reached that Iran would keep the footage for three months and would only hand over the footage to the IAEA in return for sanctions relief – otherwise it will be deleted.
Under the protocol agreed with Iran as part of the JCPOA, the IAEA “collects and analyses hundreds of thousands of images captured daily by its sophisticated surveillance cameras”. The UN’s nuclear watchdog has reportedly installed “2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment”.
Iran has also suspended its so-called “voluntary transparency measures”, which includes inspections of non-nuclear sites and military sites suspected of nuclear-related activity.
Earlier this week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asserted that no-one would be “able to stop us” acquiring a nuclear weapon “if we had any such intention”. He said that Iran could enrich uranium up to 60% purity, if necessary. In his comments he referred to the “international Zionist clown” which was an apparent reference to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iran has been taking a series of ever escalating steps in non-compliance with the JCPOA, including enriching uranium to 20% purity which is far in excess of that required for a legitimate, peaceful domestic nuclear programme and a short technical step away from weapons-grade levels. The country has also installed advanced centrifuges and are now producing uranium metal, a key component of a nuclear warhead. The UK has previously said that Iran has no credible need for uranium metal.