Monday, 25 March, 2019

UN watchdog confirms Iran’s compliance with 2015 nuclear deal

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Iran has remained within the key limits on its nuclear activities imposed by its 2015 deal with world powers, despite growing pressure from newly-reimposed US sanctions, according to the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

In a quarterly report distributed to member states on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the Islamic Republic had kept to the caps placed on its uranium enrichment levels and enriched uranium stocks as part of the 2015 accord, signed in Austria’s capital, Vienna.

IAEA inspectors responsible for policing those nuclear restrictions were also given access to all sites in the country requiring a visit to verify Iran’s ongoing compliance with the deal, according to the report.

Under the agreement, originally brokered between the US, Iran, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, Iran agreed to scale back its uranium enrichment programme and pledged not to develop nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

The Vienna-based IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Islamic Republic, on its part, has long said that it wants nuclear power only for the purposes of civilian energy.

US-Europe tensions

Friday’s report came amid a backdrop of increased efforts by Washington to pressure European countries into abandoning the JCPOA following US President Donald Trump’s decision in May to pull-out of the deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

However, Trump’s own intelligence chiefs have contradicted him over the question of Iran’s adherence to the deal.

Last month, CIA director Gina Haspel told a US Senate hearing that Iran was “technically” in compliance with the JCPOA.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran – bitter foes since Iran’s 1979 revolution – have intensified since the US withdrawal from the nuclear pact, with both administrations routinely directing hostile rhetoric towards each other.

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday the “time has come” for the UK, France and Germany to quit the accord and support Washington’s efforts to “bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region, and the world the peace, security, and freedom they deserve”.

London, Paris and Berlin have so far shown no inclination of abandoning the agreement, however, and instead, have sought to provide Iran with enough economic incentives to make it work.

Last month, the three countries, in their attempt to keep the deal alive, announced the formation of a special payments vehicle, called INSTEX, to bypass US sanctions on Iran.

Russia and China have also remained publicly committed to the existing accord.

Via: AlJazeera

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