UN watchdog says it no longer has access to cameras in key Iran nuclear facility

UN watchdog says it no longer has access to cameras in key Iran nuclear facility
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The head of the United Nations’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an interview with NBC News that the program's monitoring in Iran is “no longer intact” after the country did not repair cameras at a key nuclear facility. 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in the interview Iran has not allowed the IAEA to access cameras in a facility tasked to make centrifuge parts due to a sabotage attack in June that Iran claims Israel conducted. 

The lack of access to the cameras in the facility hurts IAEA’s efforts to get an idea of what the country is doing on the ground. Grossi said the monitoring and verification program is “no longer intact” because of it. 

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“It hasn’t paralyzed what we are doing there, but damage that has been done, with a potential of us not being able to reconstruct the picture, the jigsaw puzzle,” Grossi said.

The IAEA has had access to most of the cameras and has been allowed to service them with new batteries, except for the centrifuge facility. 

Iran claims it won’t give the IAEA access to the cameras in the facility because of the ongoing investigation into the June attack. 

Grossi said that the lack of access to the facility is concerning after events in North Korea in which the IAEA was kicked out of the country in 2009. Now, the country is believed to have nuclear weapons.  

“The case of the DPRK should remind us of what may happen if diplomatic efforts go wrong,” Grossi said, according to NBC, referring to North Korea. “It’s a clear example, it’s an indication, it’s a beacon. If diplomacy fails, you may be confronted with a situation that would have enormous political impact in the Middle East and beyond.”

When asked if he has been in contact with Iranian officials, Grossi said he has not been able to speak with officials since the election of President Ebrahim Raisi in June.

“I have never spoken to the new foreign minister,” Grossi said, according to NBC News. “I hope to be able to have the opportunity to meet with him soon because it’s very important … so when there is a problem, when there is misunderstanding, when there is a disagreement, we can talk about it. I used to have it before, and I would assume it that I would be the normal thing.”

The difficulty in monitoring Iran's nuclear production comes after Grossi previously said the United States and Iran were entering into a “decisive” period on whether to resume talks to restart the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran Nuclear Deal.

“If and when the JCPOA will be restarted, I know that for the JCPOA partners to go back to an agreement, they will have to know where they are putting their feet,” Grossi said during the interview with the news outlet. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said earlier in October he wanted to restart talks with Iran regarding the deal “soon.”