Iran has officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities.
The move is seen as a bid to pressure European countries and US President Joe Biden’s administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
World powers slammed the restrictions as a “dangerous” move.
It came as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16.
It was the first official confirmation of plans Iran announced in January to enrich to the greater purity, which is just a technical step away from weapons-grade levels and far past the 3.67% purity allowed under the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Iran’s violations of the JCPOA and the move Tuesday to limit international inspections underscores the daunting task facing Biden as he seeks to reverse former President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US unilaterally out of the deal in 2018. That left Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia struggling to keep it alive.
The JCPOA was the most significant pact between Iran and major world powers since its 1979 Islamic revolution, and Germany, France and Britain stressed their commitment Tuesday to preserving it, urging Iran to “stop and reverse all measures that reduce transparency.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a new law had gone into effect Tuesday morning, under which Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the UN agency.
“We never gave them live video, but (recordings) were given daily and weekly,” Zarif said of the IAEA’s access to information recorded by camera monitors. “The tape recording of our (nuclear) program will be kept in Iran.”
Zarif stressed in a tweet that Iran’s new limits on nuclear inspections and other violations of the pact are reversible, insisting that the US move first to revive the deal.