Iran and the UN's nuclear watchdog say they have agreed to extend by one month an agreement to monitor Tehran's nuclear activities, a move that will give more time for ongoing diplomatic efforts to salvage the country's tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
"The equipment and the verification and the monitoring activities that we agreed will continue as they are now for one month expiring on June 24, 2021," the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, told a news conference in Vienna on May 24.
The Iranian representative to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, acknowledged the agreement on Twitter.
Under a three-month agreement struck with Iran on February 21, the IAEA was allowed to collect and analyze images from surveillance cameras installed at Iranian nuclear sites.
Those images have helped the Vienna-based agency monitor whether Tehran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal.
But Iran said on May 23 the monitoring deal had expired and that IAEA access to images from inside some Iranian nuclear sites would cease.
Gharibabadi said that under the new agreement, IAEA access to images from inside some Iranian nuclear sites would cease.
"The data from the last three months are still in the possession of Iran and will not be handed over to the IAEA. The data for the next month will remain only with Iran," Gharibabadi said, according to state media.
Grossi said that Tehran had agreed that information collected so far by agency equipment in Iran would not be erased.
He said the outcome of this "long discussion" was "important" but the situation was "not ideal."
"We should all be reminded that the temporary understanding is a sort of stop-gap measure. It is to avoid flying completely blind," he said.
Iran and the United States have engaged in indirect talks in Vienna since April to renew the 2015 deal with world powers.
The agreement was put on hold three years ago after then-U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
In response, Tehran steadily overstepped the accord’s limits on its nuclear program designed to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb -- an ambition Tehran denies.
Diplomats are expected to resume the negotiations this week.