Iran has turned off two surveillance cameras used by the U.N. watchdog agency to monitor a nuclear site, state television reported on Wednesday, the latest sign of rising tensions with world powers over the revival of a 2015 deal that limited Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for easing of international economic sanctions.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran removed two “online enrichment monitors” installed by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor uranium enrichment, according to Iran’s Press TV. The report said that more than 80 percent of the U.N. agency’s cameras would continue to operate as before under safeguard agreements.
Iran’s move comes after a snag in its negotiations with world powers over resurrecting the 2015 nuclear deal, which placed limits on the country’s enrichment of uranium. Russia is one of the signatories to the 2015 deal and its war on Ukraine has further complicated the nuclear talks.
The I.A.E.A. said on Wednesday that it was aware of the reports from Iran but declined to comment further. Iranian state media reported that the country’s nuclear agency had insisted it had cooperated extensively with the I.A.E.A., but that the international agency did not appreciate its good will.
Earlier this week, the international agency said that Iran was close to having a “significant quantity” of enriched uranium, enough to make a nuclear weapon.
“It’s a matter of just a few weeks,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, the watchdog’s director general, told its board of governors on Monday.
Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. An assessment by American intelligence agencies some years ago concluded that the country once had a nuclear weapons program, but halted it in 2003.
France, Germany and Britain said in a statement to the international nuclear watchdog’s board on Tuesday that they were “deeply concerned” about Iran’s nuclear advances, warning that the country was further reducing the breakout time — or the time it would take to make a quick leap toward manufacturing a nuclear weapon. They said this was engendering distrust over Iran’s intentions.
“We strongly urge Iran to stop escalating its nuclear program,” their statement said, adding that a deal was “on the table” and Iran should conclude it urgently, because the terms being offered would not be available indefinitely.
The expressions of concern led up to Iran’s announcement on Wednesday, a steady escalation of tensions throughout the week.
The Press TV report did not identify the facility where the surveillance cameras had been turned off, but said the operation of these cameras was “deemed beyond the obligations” laid out in an Iranian agreement with the international watchdog on nuclear safeguards.
The watchdog agency said Iran had been withholding footage from its monitoring of its nuclear sites since 2021.
“The I.A.E.A. has been without crucial access to data on centrifuge and component manufacturing for a year and half now,” the statement by Germany, France and Britain said on Tuesday. “This means that neither the agency, nor the international community, know how many centrifuges Iran has in its inventory, how many were built, and where they may be located.”
Mr. Grossi also told the agency’s board on Monday that Iran has not provided credible explanations for the watchdog’s discovery of nuclear material at three undeclared locations. Nonetheless, he said, it was important for the agency to keep engaging with Iran.