Iran is preparing to slightly reduce cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by ending its voluntary commitment to the Additional Protocol, limiting the IAEA’s ability to conduct short-notice inspections.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday that Iran should “refrain” from taking this step. “Iran should provide full and timely cooperation with the IAEA,” he said.
Tehran is required to limit IAEA inspections under a law passed by Iran’s parliament in the wake of the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in an apparent Israeli plot. Under the law, Iran is obliged to take this action unless the US lifts sanctions.
The limit on IAEA inspections will take effect on February 23rd unless the Biden administration decides to act and lift sanctions or at least attempt to engage in diplomacy with Iran.
Price said that the “path to diplomacy” remains open for Iran, something Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. But both Price and Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s demand for Iran to return to the limits set by the JCPOA before the US lifts sanctions, a demand Iran has resoundingly rejected.
Since the US is the party that violated the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions, Tehran wants President Biden to act first. With both sides far apart, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif offered a way out of the impasse, suggesting the EU could help coordinate the actions needed to be taken by both sides to revive the deal.
But the Biden administration insists it must consult with allies before moving forward with Iran and is clearly in no hurry to lift sanctions. On Thursday, Blinken is set to discuss the Iran situation with his French, German, and British counterparts.