The United Nations’ nuclear activity watchdog said Monday that it has not been able to access data necessary to keep track of Iran’s nuclear program since the end of February when Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities.
The International Atomic Energy Agency made the revelation in a confidential document that was distributed to U.N. member countries and viewed by The Associated Press, which first reported on the contents of the document.
In the document, the IAEA said it has “not had access to the data from its online enrichment monitors and electronic seals, or had access to the measurement recordings registered by its installed measurement devices” since Feb. 23.
Last month, Iran said it would begin producing uranium enriched to 60%, close to the level needed to construct a nuclear weapon, for the first time after one of its nuclear facilities was attacked. Iran blamed the attack on Israel. Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is now estimated to be about 16 times higher than the level permitted by the 2015 nuclear deal.
The agency had admitted previously that Iran’s move to restrict access to its nuclear facilities meant more limited access to surveillance cameras. However, the IAEA admitted in the document that it could only give an estimate of Iran’s nuclear stockpile due to the restricted access.
Iran began restricting international access to its nuclear facilities in February in an attempt to pressure the Biden administration and European countries to lift harsh sanctions that hobbled the Islamic Republic’s economy.
Former President Trump levied crippling sanctions on Iran during his term, including a new batch of sanctions as late as January, just before he left office.
In February, President Biden said he would not lift sanctions on Tehran in a bid to convince the state terror sponsor to restart negotiations unless Tehran halts its uranium-enrichment efforts, a precursor to nuclear weapon development.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded that Biden lift the sanctions as a condition for Iran to pump the brakes on its nuclear program and return to abiding by the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
However, Biden has said he is seeking to return to the nuclear deal, which Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of in May 2018.
“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said at the time. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”
Biden called his predecessor’s decision “reckless” to abandon the deal, the signature foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama administration.
“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy,” Biden wrote CNN op-ed in September before he was elected. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”