LONDON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Iran is risking greater isolation and heightened tensions after the country removed cameras meant to monitor its nuclear program.
Iran’s actions threatened the possible restoration of the 2015 six-party nuclear deal, Blinken said in a statement.
“The only outcome of such a path will be a deepening nuclear crisis and further economic and political isolation for Iran,” he said.
Earlier Thursday the International Atomic Energy Agency said the removal of 27 surveillance cameras used by the UN nuclear watchdog to monitor Tehran’s activities could deal a “fatal blow” to negotiations to revive a landmark deal.
The statement comes a day after the IAEA’s board of governors overwhelming expressed support for an essential mission of safeguarding nuclear material to prevent nuclear proliferation, and censured Tehran over its lack of cooperation with the watchdog.
Blinken said Iran’s initial response was to threaten further nuclear provocations and reductions of transparency, insteading of addressing these issues.
“Iran must cooperate with the IAEA and provide technically credible information in response to the IAEA’s questions, which is the only way to remove these safeguards issues from the board’s agenda,” Blinken said.
He added that the US remains committed to a mutual return to full implementation of the nuclear deal and are “prepared to conclude a deal on the basis of the understandings we negotiated with our European Allies in Vienna over many months.”
Meanwhile, US envoy to Iran Rob Malley said the board’s message to Iran was clear regarding the need meet its safeguards obligations, which are separate to the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“This is not political; as soon as the IAEA has the technically credible information it needs, the board would see no need for further action on these issues,” Malley said.
He also reiterated that they are ready for a mutual return to full compliance immediately, but Iran “needs to decide to drop its extraneous demands” and agree to the Vienna deal that has been available since March.
“Iran has a way out of the nuclear crisis it has created; cooperate with the IAEA to resolve outstanding safeguards issues and agree to return to the JCPOA, thereby addressing urgent international non-proliferation concerns and achieving US sanctions lifting. The choice is theirs,” he added.