A global nuclear watchdog carried out around three snap inspections of Iranian atomic facilities a month last year, underscoring the pressure on world powers as talks to rescue their landmark 2015 deal with Tehran approach next week’s expiry of a key monitoring agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s overall inspections in Iran also held near record levels in 2020, according to a restricted report circulated to diplomats and seen by Bloomberg. A fifth of the 161 snap inspections called worldwide last year took place in Iran, according to the report.
Such visits were the centerpiece of the 2015 pact that reined in Tehran’s atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief, providing insight into activities at Iranian locations including uranium mines and centrifuge workshops.
But monitoring agreements were a casualty of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to ditch the accord in 2018 and reimpose sanctions, prompting Iran to gradually expand its atomic activities. If inspections were to stop, the risks of a misunderstanding over Tehran’s intentions would rise.
Negotiators gathered in Vienna are attempting to bring both nations back into compliance with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.