The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s watchdog surveillance program was no longer “intact” after Tehran refused requests to repair surveillance equipment damaged during a attack in June against an Iranian nuclear site blamed on Israel.
The drone attack in June reportedly hit the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, or TESA, in the town of Karaj, northwest of Tehran. According to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the explosion destroyed one of its cameras at the site and severely damaged another. We don’t know how many cameras there are.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Saturday in an interview with NBC News that Iran cited its ongoing investigation into the attack as denying the United Nations watchdog access to the site or the ability to replace damaged cameras.
Grossi told the network that without this access, the IAEA’s monitoring and verification program in Iran is “no longer intact.”
“It hasn’t crippled what we’re doing there, but [the] damage that has been done, [it has the] potential not to be able to reconstruct the picture “of what the Iranians did on the site,” he said.
“If and when the JCPOA is restarted, I know that for the JCPOA partners to come back to an agreement, they will need to know where they are stepping foot,” Grossi added, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran last month admitted to removing several damaged surveillance cameras installed by the IAEA at the Karaj site.
In July, Iran accused Israel of mounting the sabotage attack on the site, which manufactures components for machines used to enrich uranium. Without disclosing the details of the assault, Iranian authorities admitted that the strike damaged the building.
The attack on Karaj was just the latest in a series of alleged attacks on Iran’s nuclear program that have escalated regional hostilities in recent months as world powers try to save the now collapsed nuclear deal. Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage, although it has not claimed responsibility for it.
Grossi’s warning came as EU-brokered negotiations stalled to relaunch a landmark 2015 deal slashing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
That deal began to crumble in 2018 when the United States withdrew from it and reinstated the sanctions. Iran in turn has started to intensify its nuclear activities again.
Talks began in April in Vienna between Tehran and the five other parties to the 2015 deal, aimed at bringing Washington back into the deal.
But this dialogue has stalled since June, when the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi won the Iranian presidential election.
Grossi also told NBC that he has yet to speak to Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, appointed by Raisi in August.