News ID: 239266
Published: 1003 GMT February 22, 2019

IAEA: Iran adhering to terms of nuclear deal

IAEA: Iran adhering to terms of nuclear deal

Iran has been living up to a deal with world powers limiting its nuclear program, the UN atomic watchdog said Friday, as diplomatic wrangling continues over the future of the accord.

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran was still complying with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with global powers under which Tehran scaled back its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

The IAEA's latest report showed that over the past three-month period, Iran's stock of heavy water had risen from 122.8 to 124.8 metric tons and that it held 163.8kg of enriched uranium, up from 149.4kg in November.

Both levels are within the limits foreseen by the JCPOA.

“Not much has changed..., a continuing reporting of the implementation (by Iran),” a senior diplomat said on condition of anonymity, summarizing the report.

Iran’s stock of heavy water, a substance used as a moderator in some nuclear reactors, stayed within the limit set by the deal and Tehran continued to ship some of it out of the country, with one ton having been exported during the quarter. The senior official said it was sold to an unspecified IAEA member state.

The IAEA also repeated its usual statement that it carried out so-called complementary access inspections – which are often at short notice – at all locations in Iran that it needed to visit.

Without naming specific countries, in January IAEA chief Yukiya Amano rejected pressure on the agency, saying: "If our credibility is thrown into question, and, in particular, if attempts are made to micro-manage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification, that is counterproductive and extremely harmful."

US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last May, reimposing US sanctions on Iran’s economy and lifeblood oil industry that were lifted under the 2015 agreement.

Trump's own intelligence chiefs have contradicted him over the question of Iran's adherence to the deal.

Last month Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel told a Senate hearing that Iran was "technically" in compliance with the JCPOA.

The European Union – along with the European signatories to the deal namely France, Britain and Germany, collectively known as the E3 – have been scrambling to find ways to keep the deal alive, last month setting up a special payments vehicle to bypass US sanctions.

However, while Iran initially welcomed the creation of the vehicle – called INSTEX – as a "first step", last week Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the mechanism "falls short of the commitments by the E3 to save the nuclear deal."

Diplomats say the channel for non-dollar trade will not be able to handle the big transactions Iran says it needs to keep the deal afloat.

Setting up that channel, however, has angered Washington for undermining its effort to choke Iran’s economy in response to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its influence in the Middle East.

US Vice President Mike Pence last week called on those European powers to follow Washington in pulling out of the agreement despite their long-held position that the deal is worth keeping as long as Iran sticks to it. But the European nations rejected the call.

The Islamic Republic has long said that it wants nuclear power only for purposes of civilian energy.

AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.

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