As part of the nuclear deal that President Barack Obama negotiated with Iran in 2015, the Iranians were required to turn over images of the regime’s nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In February, Iran announced that it would no longer turn over images from those sites to the IAEA. After some pressure from Europeans, Iran agreed to a 3-month extension of the agreement, which was then extended by another month in May.
But when the IAEA sent a letter to Iran in June requesting another extension, Iran didn’t even bother responding.
“The agreement has expired… any of the information recorded will never be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the data and images will remain in the possession of Iran,” Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, speaker of Iran’s parliament, said on Sunday, according to Reuters.
In practical terms, this means that Iran is free to pretty much do anything it wishes at these nuclear sites — sites that, in the past, were suspected of conducting research on nuclear weapons.
Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, wrote on Twitter that the data recording was “a political decision” to facilitate the talks and “shouldn’t be considered as obligation.”
Gharibabadi was also quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying “that Iran was not required to comply” with Grossi’s request, according to Reuters.
Iran is inviting the United States to walk out of talks in Vienna to rejoin the nuclear deal. But Biden is far too invested in rejoining the nuclear deal to do anything about this slap in the face. The U.S. registered a mild protest.
“Iran should engage the IAEA without further delay to ensure appropriate measures remain in place so the IAEA’s continuity of knowledge on JCPOA monitoring can be readily re-established,” a U.S. official told The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.
Iranian state media on Wednesday quoted Mahmoud Vaezi, chief of staff to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as saying that the country’s Supreme National Security Council would take a decision on whether to extend the inspections arrangement with the IAEA at its first meeting after the expiration date.
Also Friday, the US and France warned Iran that time was running out to return to a nuclear deal, voicing fear that Tehran’s sensitive atomic activities could advance if talks drag on.
“We still have significant differences with Iran,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that he hoped a resumption of talks in the coming days could settle them. “We are just not there yet.”
The refusal to turn over monitoring data would appear to be one of those “significant differences.” But to the Biden administration, this is a minor inconvenience. The trick will be surrendering to Iran on the issue without appearing to do so. Iran or the IAEA will propose some kind of meaningless “compromise” and the U.S. will accept it.
Biden is itching to re-sign the nuclear deal to vindicate his old boss, Barack Obama, and to stick it to Donald Trump. What happens to the U.S. and our friends in the region who fear a return of the nuclear deal and a strengthening of Iran is of little consequence to Biden.