IAEA strikes deal with Iran to place new cameras at centrifuge-parts workshop

In a statement the U.N. nuclear watchdog said, it has reached agreement with Iran on replacing surveillance cameras at a centrifuge-parts workshop that had been removed after an attack.

The development removes one potential obstacle to wider nuclear talks.

These wider talks between the United States and Iran on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are currently deadlocked. The United States has threatened to confront Tehran at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors if it did not relent on the workshop this month.

Following the statement, a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said, Washington did not see a need for a special meeting of the IAEA’s board if Tehran did as promised.

“A confrontation at the IAEA board could have caused the wider talks to collapse”, said diplomats.

In a statement the IAEA said, the agreement “will enable us to resume necessary continuity of knowledge at this facility, and new cameras would be installed in coming days”.

Earlier this year in June, one of the IAEA’s four cameras at the workshop in the TESA Karaj complex was destroyed in what appears to be a sabotage that Iran blamed on Israel.

Since then Iran has removed the cameras and has not allowed the IAEA to replace them.

While Iran has shown the IAEA the cameras and the storage media containing their footage, it did not show the footage from the destroyed camera or the destroyed camera itself, leading to questions from the IAEA and Western powers to ask where was the camera and its footage.

Wednesday’s agreement did not address this issue.

The bigger the gap in knowledge of what exactly happened at Karaj, the greater will be the mistrust among Western states that Iran has hidden away key parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium.

“I sincerely hope that we can continue our constructive discussions to also address and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues in Iran,” said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in a statement.

“This was a tactical move to avert a near-term diplomatic crisis, but the broader nuclear deal impasse remains,” said Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome.

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