An Iranian woman holds a poster of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Teheran, Iran. Picture: REUTERS
An Iranian woman holds a poster of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Teheran, Iran. Picture: REUTERS

Vienna — Iran continued abiding by nuclear limits in its landmark accord with world powers even after US President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement, according to international monitors.

In its first report since the US re-imposed oil and banking sanctions on November 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was still allowing intrusive inspections while keeping its nuclear capacity and material below thresholds allowed under the July 2015 deal, according to a five-page restricted report published on Monday and seen by Bloomberg News.

The IAEA conducted snap inspections “to all sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” according to the quarterly report. “The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran remained ongoing.”

While the US decision to drop out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Tehran and world powers has started to bite Iran’s economy, the other nations that joined the accord — France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China — have all vowed to stand by it.

Countries including China, India and South Korea won waivers from the US to continue importing Iranian oil, although the state department maintains they must continue reducing volumes. The EU is trying to develop a “special purpose vehicle” to keep financial transactions flowing. A reactor upgrade promised under the nuclear deal is also continuing with US acquiescence.

“The US has left just enough breathing room to continue implementing the JCPOA from a technical level,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said by phone on Monday. “What we will see for at least the next couple months is continued compliance as Iran assesses the new cost-benefit analysis of staying in the deal.”

While US officials have grudgingly conceded Iran continues to meet its nuclear obligations under the accord — which capped the capacity and production of material that could be used in weapons in return for sanctions relief — they accuse Tehran’s government of continuing its ballistic missile programme and of meddling in Middle Eastern conflicts from Syria to Yemen.