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Iran agrees to extension of deal on surveillance cameras at nuclear sites

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Phillip Jenne and Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

Iran and the UN’s nuclear watchdog have agreed to a one-month extension of a deal on surveillance cameras at Tehran’s atomic sites.

The move buys more time for ongoing negotiations seeking to save the country’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The last-minute discussions further underscored the narrowing window for the US and others to reach terms with Iran as it presses a tough stance with the international community over its atomic programme.

The Islamic Republic is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi told journalists that the agreement came after a discussion with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, acknowledged the deal at the same time on Twitter.

Under a confidential agreement called an Additional Protocol with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyses images from a series of surveillance cameras installed at Iranian nuclear sites.

Those cameras helped it monitor Tehran’s programme to see if it is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s hard-line parliament in December approved a bill that would suspend part of UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories did not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions by February.

The IAEA then struck a three-month deal with Iran in February to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterwards if no deal had been reached.

Iran has since broken all the deal’s limits after then-US president Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.

Negotiations continue in Vienna to see if both the US and Iran can re-enter the deal, which limited Tehran’s enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

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