IAEA says talks with Iran continue as monitoring deal set to expire

Arrangement is important to keeping indirect talks between Iran & the United States on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal


Reuters May 20, 2021
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria September 9, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

The UN nuclear watchdog is still in talks with Iran on how to proceed with a three-month monitoring deal that expires on Friday, it said on Thursday, adding that it will provide an update within days.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran announced in February that although Tehran would reduce cooperation with the IAEA including by ending snap inspections, they had struck a deal on continuing "necessary" IAEA monitoring and verification activities in Iran.

The arrangement is important to keeping indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal on track. Senior diplomats from France, Britain and Germany warned on Wednesday that finding a solution is critical. 

"(IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Vice-President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, on 21 February agreed on a temporary bilateral technical understanding (for up to 3 months) that remains in effect," the IAEA said in a statement. 

"The Agency and Iran are currently in consultations regarding the implementation of the existing understanding. The Director General will provide an update to the (IAEA) Board of Governors in the coming days," it added.

The IAEA has described a black-box-type system in which data is collected without the IAEA being able to access it immediately. Diplomats say it includes real-time monitoring of Iran's uranium-enrichment levels and that the equipment might simply keep running for a time in the absence of an extension.

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