By KIYOKO METZLER, Associated Press
VIENNA (AP) — Iran is continuing to comply with the landmark 2015 deal with major powers aimed at preventing Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives despite the United States withdrawing from the pact and re-imposing sanctions, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Friday.
In a confidential quarterly report distributed to its member states and reviewed by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has been abiding with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The U.S. pulled out of the deal in May and has been pressuring remaining signatories to abandon it as well.
Every IAEA quarterly report issued since Washington withdrew from the pact reported Iran remained in compliance. A senior diplomat said no noticeable changes in Tehran’s level of cooperation have been seen since the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions.
“It is continuing at the same level as before,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t officially authorized to discuss the report.
In its latest report, the Vienna-based agency said its inspectors still have access to all sites and locations in Iran they need to visit.
“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence,” the report stated, referring to the procedure detailing safeguards and tools for verification.
The same language appeared in past quarterly reports,
The U.N. agency noted that Iran’s stocks of heavy water and low-enriched uranium still were under the limits set in the 2015 pact.
The other nations involved in the JCPOA — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — along with the European Union have so far shown no inclination to abandon the agreement. They instead have tried to provide Iran with enough economic incentives to keep it alive.
Last month, Britain, France and Germany established a barter-type system known as INSTEX that is designed to allow their businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran and thereby evade possible U.S. sanctions. Plans call for the payment system to be run from Germany as a financial institution.
The plan has angered Washington, despite reassurances from the Europeans that their initiative would concentrate on products not currently subject to U.S. sanctions, such as medicine, medical supplies and agricultural goods, rather than on broader trade.
Still, at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence slammed INSTEX as “undermining” the U.S. sanctions and called on the Europeans to abandon the Iran nuclear deal altogether.
Illustrating the difficulties facing the nations trying to sustain the nuclear deal as they balance American concerns and demands from Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich conference INSTEX does not go far enough.
“Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against a dangerous tide of U.S. unilateralism,” Zarif said.
David Rising in Berlin contributed to this story.