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Iran agrees to extend deal on cameras at its nuclear sites

VIENNA — Iran and the UN’s nuclear watchdog agree to a one-month extension to a deal on surveillance cameras at Tehran’s atomic sites, buying more time for ongoing negotiations seeking to save the country’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The last-minute discussions, including the International Atomic Energy Agency pushing back a statement planned for Sunday, further underscored the narrowing window for the US and others to reach terms with Iran as it presses a tough stance with the international community over its atomic program. The Islamic Republic is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal.

Speaking at a news conference Monday in Vienna, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi tells journalists that agreement came after a discussion with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program. He acknowledges that challenges remain, however, as the agency still can’t access images taken by its cameras.

“I’d want to stress this is not ideal,” Grossi said. “This is like an emergency device that we came up with in order for us to continue having these monitoring activities.”

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, acknowledges the deal at the same time on Twitter. He says Tehran’s civilian nuclear agency, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, would keep the material already recorded by the IAEA cameras.

“We recommend the negotiating countries to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner,” Gharibabadi writes.

Under a confidential agreement called an “Additional Protocol” with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyzes images from a series of surveillance cameras installed at Iranian nuclear sites. Those cameras helped it monitor Tehran’s program to see if it is complying with the nuclear deal.

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