UN atomic watchdog delivers mixed report on Iranian nuclear deal
Vienna — Iran has stayed within the main curbs on its nuclear activity imposed by its deal with major powers despite the US pullout from the pact but could be quicker to provide extra access to inspectors, the UN atomic watchdog said on Thursday.
In its first such report since President Donald Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal on May 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had complied with limits on the level to which it can enrich uranium, enriched uranium and other items.
It did, however, rebuke Iran for dragging its feet over so-called "complementary access" inspections under the IAEA’s additional protocol, which Iran is implementing under the deal.
"The agency … has conducted complementary accesses under the additional protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit," the IAEA said.
"Timely and proactive co-operation by Iran in providing such access would facilitate implementation of the additional protocol and enhance confidence," it said.
The report came with France, Britain and Germany scrambling to salvage the deal’s core bargain of sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on nuclear fuel production. Trump is reimposing US sanctions against Tehran, threatening to scupper the deal and prompt Iranian retaliation.
Trump sees various "flaws" in the deal, including that many of its restrictions lapse over time and that it does not address Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its role in regional conflicts such as the wars in Syria and Yemen.
Some western companies such as French oil giant Total have already said they may have to quit Iran because of the US move. Senior officials from the other countries that signed the deal — France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran — are meeting in Vienna on Friday to discuss next steps.
Meanwhile, the US imposed sanctions on several Iranian and Turkish companies and a number of aircraft on Thursday in a move targeting four Iranian airlines. The companies targeted were linked to Mahan Air and Meraj Air, the US treasury department said. It also said it was targeting a number of their aircraft, as well as aircraft from Caspian Airlines and Pouya Air.
The US said the two airlines had ferried weapons, fighters and money to proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Washington also threatened sanctions for others granting landing rights and providing services to the aircraft.
"The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and US goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.