IAEA and Iran agreement to replace cameras at Karaj Facility

17 December 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on 15 December that it will soon install new surveillance cameras at Iran’s Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop under an agreement reached by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and the Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.

The cameras, to be installed in coming days, will replace those that were removed from the Karaj facility earlier this year. In addition, the Agency and Iran will continue to work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them.

“The agreement with Iran on replacing surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility is an important development for the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities in Iran. It will enable us to resume necessary continuity of knowledge at this facility,” Grossi said. “I sincerely hope that we can continue our constructive discussions to also address and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues in Iran.”  

The agreement includes the following elements:

  • The Agency and Iran will continue to work on remaining outstanding safeguards issues with the aim of resolving them. To this end, Iran and the Agency will conduct a series of exchanges of information and assessments including through meetings of experts.
  • The Agency will make available a sample camera and related technical information to Iran for analysis by its relevant security and judiciary officials, in the presence of the Agency inspectors, on 19 December 2021.
  • The Agency will reinstall cameras to replace those removed from the workshop at Karaj and perform other related technical activities before the end of December 2021 on a date agreed between the Agency and Iran.

Iran had voluntarily allowed the IAEA replace the damaged CCTV cameras at the Karaj's site with new cameras, Nournews, affiliated to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), reported. It added that Iran’s voluntary move was a bid to prevent the possible misunderstandings about the activities at the TESA Karaj discussed during Grossi's visits to Tehran in September and December.

Previously, in response to the IAEA's request to replace the CCTV cameras damaged in the sabotage act at Karaj, Iran had explicitly stated that it would not allow the cameras to be fixed or replaced before the technical and security inspections at the site by the relevant Iranian authorities were completed. However, given the IAEA's condemnation of the sabotage at the complex and after the agency agreed that the inspections of the cameras by Iranian experts could be finished before fixing or reinstalling the CCTV cameras at the site, Iran had now allowed the IAEA to reinstall the cameras.

Nournews reported that the agreement is not in contradiction with the law approved by the Iranian lawmakers at the parliament in early December last year entitled “Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Protect Iranian Nation’s Interests” because after IAEA installs the new cameras, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) will keep the recordings of the cameras and will not hand them over until a final agreement had been reached regarding the lifting of sanctions on Iran. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian confirmed that a “good agreement” had been reached with the IAEA “that could address some of the alleged concerns about Iran's peaceful nuclear programme”. He added that the agreement will increase mutual cooperation between Iran and the IAEA.

He also referred to the latest developments in the ongoing talks to reinstate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)  between Iran the P5+1 group of countries (the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany) under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear development in return for the lifting of sanctions. After former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018, Iran began to gradually roll back on the restrictions imposed by the JCPOA, including oversight by the IAEA after the European parties to the agreement failed to put any measures in place to mitigate those sanctions. 

Iran continues to insist that no agreement can be finalised until the US first lifts the sanctions. With the talks in their seventh session Amir Abdollahian said “the other side” had agreed to discuss two drafts submitted by Iran recently, one on the removal of sanctions and the other on the nuclear issues. 

He further noted that these documents were the result of tens of hours of discussions in the government. He affirmed that Iran’s policy is to completely lift the JCPOA-related sanctions in return for dispelling the other parties’ concerns over Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme.

He said the two texts are currently being discussed in Vienna, the first text is the result of the first six rounds of negotiations and, at the same time, the opposing sides have agreed that the new drafts proposed by Iran should also remain on the table in order for all parties to come up with a single text through comprehensive negotiations.

Earlier, AEOI Head Mohammad Eslami had pointed out that, based on the nuclear agreement, the TESA Karaj Complex is not subject to any safeguards agreement between Iran and the IAEA, but Iran had nevertheless allowed monitoring of the facility. 

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 14 December welcomed the ongoing talks in Vienna between Iran and the P4+1 countries, and called for the removal of the US sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal and Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed it. In his 12th report to the UN Security Council on the implementation of the resolution 2231, Guterres said the JCPOA remains the best option to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. He said the US should end its unilateral sanctions against Iran but also expressing regret over Tehran's rollback of its relevant nuclear commitments.

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