An Iranian foreign official says Tehran could prevent the IAEA, the UN's atomic agency, from visiting sites that are not declared as nuclear sites. He called on the US to rapidly return to a 2015 deal.
Iran said on Monday that it would block snap inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties "do not fulfill their obligations" to the 2015 nuclear deal, threatening US President Joe Biden’s hopes of reviving the accord.
The country has launched a program to enrich uranium at higher levels and started the production of uranium metal, and is working with faster centrifuges.
It is also storing far more uranium than allowed under the nuclear deal.
"If others do not fulfill their obligations by February 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol," Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
"It does not mean ending all inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog. All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations," he said, alluding to the United States.
Writing on Twitter, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA said Iran had informed the Vienna-based body of its plans.
Biden says he wants to return the US to the nuclear deal. His predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned it in 2018.
The White House has named a special envoy on Iran, Rob Malley, one of the architects of the original accord.
Officially, Malley's first task has been coordination with the Europeans, and he will only afterward revive US dialogue with Iran that was ended under Trump.
But State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated on Friday that the United States is "not looking at any particular deadline" when asked about February 21.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to curbs on its uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
After Trump quit and reimposed sanctions, Iran began breaking some of the terms of the deal.
Biden and his European allies have been keen to bring Tehran back onside, but Israel has been a repeated critic of the agreement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government believes that the deal is being used as a delaying tactic to allow Iran to build a bomb.
jf/msh (dpa, Reuters)