Tehran: In the renewed drive for inspections of Iranian nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has agreed to extend UN inspectors' access to its nuclear sites for three months, the head of the UN agency has said.
However, as per the agreement brokered hastily after a change of guard in the White House, the IAEA officials will not have any right to make snap inspections. Overall, the delegation will have less access to sites than before.
Iran has been insisting on UN lifting its sanctions, reimposed by former president Donald Trump after his administration withdrew from the 2015 deal. The accord was signed by Iran with the US and six world powers, and the US unilaterally went out of the deal. Iran holds that it can resume talks and allos inspections only after the sanctions are withdrawn.
The Donald Trump administration re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, and Tehran retaliated by resuming nuclear activity barred under the agreement signed with six world powers in 2015.The crisis over Iran's nuclear programme has been on the international agenda for almost 20 years. Iran says its atomic programme is for peaceful purposes, while the US and others suspect Iran is secretly seeking the capability to develop nuclear weapons.
A law coming into force on Tuesday by Iranian MPs requires the government to stop allowing the inspection at short-notice of declared or undeclared nuclear sites by experts from the global nuclear watchdog, IAEA.
"This law exists. This law is going to be applied, which means that the Additional Protocol, much to my regret, is going to be suspended," said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, after a weekend of talks in Tehran.
"There is less access, let's face it. But still we were able to retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work," he added.
The "additional protocol" allows the IAEA to make unannounced inspections at sites not previously disclosed by a country.
Iran had agreed to resume the snap inspections under the 2015 deal, having previously suspended them in 2006. Such visits are a voluntary part of a separate, earlier nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - an international agreement drawn up in the late-1960s designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, which Iran joined in 1970.
(IANS feed with minor edits)