WASHINGTON – Iran has agreed to admit United Nations inspectors to two previously blocked nuclear sites, officials said Wednesday, and turned back during an international feud over their nuclear program the world powers and increasingly isolated the United States.
In a joint statement, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran declared that they had reached a good faith agreement on the inspections to verify that Tehran's nuclear program had remained peaceful. Iran "freely grants" access to the sites, the statement said, and the inspections have been scheduled.
After the so-called "intensive" discussions, the nuclear authority has "no further questions for Iran". The statement reads:
Just two months ago the IAEA accused Iran of hiding suspected nuclear activity after inspectors were denied access to the two unidentified locations. The agency, which acts as the United Nations nuclear watchdog, also said Iran had withdrawn from requests for possible undeclared nuclear materials and activities for nearly a year, sanctions the Iranian economy – and breaking a 2015 deal restricting its nuclear program – Tehran has softened its earlier defiance.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described relations with the IAEA as "very good" and said he hoped to intensify cooperation with the agency. He said the I.A.E.A. had a "crucial responsibility" to help keep the 2015 nuclear deal intact.
His comments, as reported by the Iranian state media, came after a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday with Rafael Grossi, the general director of the IAEA.
Mr. Rouhani also said that a large majority of states on the Security Council continued to support the 2015 agreement and expressed hope that American "unilateralism" would end, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported .
The Foreign Ministry urged the inspections to be thorough and to be carried out promptly, as the IAEA has yet to be assured that the Iranian nuclear program complies with international guidelines.
"Access is only the first step," the ministry said in a statement. "Iran must ensure full cooperation, and the I.A.E.A. needs answers to its questions about potential undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. “
The I.A.E.A. Inspections are not part of the 2015 Nuclear Agreement and the agency will only focus on nuclear material and activities relevant to certain protocols under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the Trump administration had the IAEAs taken results in June as an example of Iran's shameful diplomacy.
Although the IAEA Israeli intelligence officials did not identify the two sites to be inspected and identified one as a development site for Abadeh nuclear weapons. It is believed that experiments with conventional explosives were carried out there. When inspectors requested access last year, satellite photos showed that some buildings had been destroyed.
In 2018, President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iranian-five brokered nuclear deals to fulfill an election pledge to permanent members of the Security Council. (Germany was also a signatory to the agreement, which was largely negotiated by the Obama administration and the European Union.)
Since then, however, the State Department has not forced Iran to negotiate a new agreement that also restricts Tehran's program for ballistic missiles and military support to Shiite militias in the Middle East. A US sanctions campaign to put pressure on Iran by denying it exports and billions in revenue has also angered other nations who want the original nuclear deal to be preserved.
On Wednesday morning, the State Department tweeted a photo of Mr. Trump boasting "the toughest sanctions against Iran".
"This made it very difficult for them to give money to terrorist organizations," the tweet said.
The Trump Administration now insists that the United Nations restore broader international sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the 2015 Agreement. On Tuesday, however, the President of the Security Council said that the American demand was not being adequately supported and therefore "unable to take further action".
The flap has alienated the United States from its closest allies in Europe, where diplomats said the Trump administration had few bargaining opportunities and had shown no willingness to compromise before attempting to enforce sanctions through the Security Council.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged that sanctions must be restored in accordance with Security Council resolutions to punish Iran for violating some provisions of the nuclear deal. However, European diplomats said that a dispute mechanism such as the one used by the UK, France and Germany in January must first be resolved before international sanctions come back into force.
Rick Gladstone contributed to the coverage.