Image: iStock
Image: iStock

The UN atomic watchdog said Friday that Iran has been adhering to an agreement with world powers limiting its nuclear programme, as diplomatic wrangling continues over the future of the pact.

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran continued to be in compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with global powers under which Tehran substantially scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The IAEA’s report showed that over the past 90 days, Iran’s stock of heavy water had risen from 122.8 to 124.8 metric tonnes and that it held 163.8kg of enriched uranium, up from 149.4kg in November.

Both levels are within the limits expected by the JCPOA.

Last week, European countries spurned a call from US Vice President Mike Pence to follow Washington’s lead in withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Israel has welcomed the US withdrawal from the pact, alleging that Iran has a secret atomic warehouse.

Without specifically naming the United States, in January IAEA chief Yukiya Amano rejected pressure on the agency, saying: “If our credibility is thrown into question, and, in particular, if attempts are made to micro-manage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification, that is counter-productive and extremely harmful.”

In May, US President Donald Trump dramatically withdrew from the JCPOA, a move that was followed by Washington’s imposition of sweeping new sanctions on Iran in November.

Trump’s own intelligence chiefs have contradicted his assertion that Iran is failing to adhere to the agreement.

Last month, CIA Director Gina Haspel told a Senate hearing that Iran was “technically” in compliance with the JCPOA.

The European Union – along with the European signatories to the deal, collectively known as the E3 – have been working furiously to find ways to keep the agreement alive, last month setting up a special payments vehicle to bypass American sanctions.

However, while Iran initially welcomed the creation of the vehicle, which is called INSTEX, as a “first step,” last week Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the mechanism “falls short of the commitments by the E3 to save the nuclear deal.”

– with reporting by the Agence France-Presse

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