UN nuclear watchdog says Iran abiding with 2015 deal limits

VIENNA (AP) — The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said Monday that Iran is abiding by the deal reached in 2015 with major powers that aimed at preventing Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives.

In a confidential quarterly report distributed to 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 issue has grown more complicated since the U.S. withdrew unilaterally in May from the deal and then re-imposed sanctions. Iran’s economy has been struggling ever since and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other signatories to the deal — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — are continuing to try and make it work.

In the report, the Vienna-based IAEA said the agency had access to all sites in Iran that it needed to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

“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.

In its last quarterly report in August, the agency also concluded Iran had stayed within key limitations set by the JCPOA.

A senior diplomat, who was speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t officially allowed to discuss the report, said that “there’s nothing that indicates that Iran’s cooperation or Iran’s attitude has changed since November 5.”

On that date, the U.S. re-imposed further oil and banking sanctions on Iran that where lifted under the 2015 deal but granted waivers to eight countries, including Japan and Turkey, to continue buying Iranian petroleum products without penalty for another six months.

The latest batch of U.S. sanctions severely impacts Iran’s oil industry, the major source of the country’s foreign revenue.

Tehran worries OPEC and non-OPEC countries such as Russia will increase their production to fill the gap in response.