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Iran suspends implementation of Additional Protocol, limits inspections of its nuclear programme

On 23 February Iran suspended the implementation of the Additional Protocol (AP) and all supplementary inspection provisions granted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) beyond the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA), as mandated by the Iranian Parliament through a law passed in December 2020. The suspension restricts the scope of IAEA inspections at Tehran’s nuclear facilities in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran had been provisionally applying the AP since 16 January 2016, as required by the JCPOA. On 25 December 2020, in response to the United States’ secondary sanctions imposed on Iran since 2018, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) ratified a law entitled ‘Strategic Action Plan to Lift the Sanctions and Protect the Interests of the Iranian People’. The law directed the Iranian government to make significant modifications to Iran’s nuclear programme, including suspension of IAEA inspections beyond the CSA, including the AP, within two months of the law’s ratification.

While the CSA does have provisions to conduct thorough inspections to prevent diversion of nuclear materials from peaceful purposes, such inspections are broadly restricted to declared facilities with “fissionable material”. The Modified Code 3.1 signed by Iran, which is a subsidiary arrangement to the CSA, also mandates Tehran to provide “design information” regarding new facilities when the projects are authorised for construction or when modifications are made to existing facilities.

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