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Iran says UN can’t see images from cameras at nuclear site until sanctions end

After agreeing to new cameras, Tehran says images of Karaj ‘will be stored’ and not handed over to the IAEA

The alleged Karaj centrifuge parts plant near Karaj, Iran, seen in a photo posted online by Google user Edward Majnoonian, in May 2019. (Screenshot/Google Maps)
The alleged Karaj centrifuge parts plant near Karaj, Iran, seen in a photo posted online by Google user Edward Majnoonian, in May 2019. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

TEHRAN, Iran — The United Nations atomic watchdog will not be able to examine camera images from a nuclear facility near the Iranian city of Karaj until after sanctions are lifted, an Iranian official said on Thursday.

The comment came a day after Tehran and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said they had reached agreement on replacing the cameras at the facility which makes centrifuges.

That agreement came after Western powers warned time is running out to revive a 2015 deal under which Iran pledged to reduce its nuclear capabilities — under IAEA supervision — in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran says the video surveillance cameras were damaged in a June attack that it blames on Israel.

“The cameras will be installed in a way that they take images which will be stored in the cameras’ memory,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

“When they are full, the memory cards will be removed and placed under the joint control of Iran and the Agency,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA. “In other words, the Agency will not have any access to the information before sanctions are lifted.”

Earlier this year, Iran began restricting some IAEA inspection activity as part of steps it has taken away from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the United States unilaterally pulled out in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

Negotiations resumed last week in Vienna to try to revive the 2015 deal which aimed to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb, a goal Tehran has always denied.

Among the sticking points in Vienna are precisely which sanctions Washington will lift and the guarantees demanded by Iran to safeguard against future changes of heart from the US.

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