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Iran begins restricting watchdogs' access to nuclear sites: report

The Hill logo The Hill 2/23/2021 Dominick Mastrangelo
a person standing in front of a building: Iran begins restricting watchdogs' access to nuclear sites: report © Getty Images Iran begins restricting watchdogs' access to nuclear sites: report

Iranian officials announced they will no longer cooperate with international authorities monitoring production of the country's nuclear stockpile.

"The law has gone into effect from this morning," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on state-run television, according to The Associated Press.

"We never gave them live video, but [recordings] were given daily and weekly," Zarif added in reference to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) access to video recorded by monitors. "The tape recording of our [nuclear] program will be kept in Iran."

Iran had previously shared video surveillance footage of its government nuclear facilities with IAEA inspectors. Now, Iranian officials say they will keep the recordings for three months, and will only hand them over if granted sanctions relief by European nations and the United States.

The announcement is seen as a move to pressure the U.S. to reenter the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal - a multinational agreement designed to preserve transparency between the western nations and Tehran when it comes to nuclear capabilities.

Former President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal three years ago, saying it was expensive and unnecessary.

The Biden administration recently announced that it would participate in discussions with the European Union about renegotiating the deal.

"This is about having a conversation about the path forward," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week.

Still, most experts warn a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran over nuclear negotiations could be difficult to achieve.

"What it says more than anything else is that the objective is to make diplomacy a centerpiece of what we do, but also to demonstrate again that the alliance relationships are important, that we'll work to reinvigorate them, that we'll work with them," Dennis Ross, a former adviser to former President Obama told The Hill last week, referring to relations between Washington and Tehran.

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