Talking to reporters, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that the implementation of the Additional Protocol had been stopped as of Tuesday morning, Press TV reported.
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, also announced late on Monday that all the IAEA’s additional access to the nuclear sites would be halted by midnight.
“As of 12:00 p.m. local time (2030 GMT), we have nothing called obligations beyond the Safeguards Agreement,” he said. “Necessary orders have been issued to nuclear facilities.”
Zarif pointed out that Iran will continue to implement its commitments under the NPT Safeguards Agreements and cooperate with the IAEA.
He explained that footage recorded by cameras at Iran's nuclear sites will now be withheld and no longer shared with the IAEA on a daily and weekly basis as was done in the past.
The foreign minister also noted that Iran will have no official meeting with the US, since Washington is no longer a party to the nuclear deal.
Later on Tuesday, Zarif posted a tweet about the technical understanding reached with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.
“Obliged by law, we halted voluntary implementation of Add'l Protocol.
Fully compatible with JCPOA ¶36 since:
-@POTUS has yet to cease US violation
-E3 continue to fail to meet obligations
Understandings w/ @rafaelmgrossi show our good faith.
All remedial measures reversible.”
The halt came under the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, a law passed last December by the Iranian Parliament.
The legislation set February 23 as a deadline for the Iranian government to further scale back compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if the US does not lift its sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The withdrawal from the Protocol adds to Iran’s previous steps away from the JCPOA in response to US unilateral withdrawal in 2018 and the other parties’ failure to fulfill their commitments.
‘Leader’s unity call welcome’
In the meantime, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani on Monday welcomed a call by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for the executive and legislative branches of the government to resolve their rifts and act in unison regarding the anti-sanctions law.
“Negotiations and agreements between the Islamic Republic and the IAEA have been in full compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the country, in particular the resolution of the 759th session of the Supreme National Security Council. All experts and security officials have acknowledged that they (the negotiations and agreements with the IAEA) were the most efficient and the least costly way to fully implement the Parliament’s resolution,” it said in a statement.
“The goal of the Islamic Republic and the definite plan of the government are to realize the rights of the Iranian people, intelligently and decisively confront the illegal actions and policies of the United States, and lift the cruel and inhumane sanctions against the Iranian nation as soon as possible,” it added.
During Grossi’s visit to Tehran on Sunday, the UN nuclear watchdog struck a three-month deal with Iran.
Under the agreement, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) would continue to use cameras to record information at its nuclear sites for three months, but it would retain the information exclusively. If the US sanctions are lifted completely within that period, Iran will provide the footage information to the IAEA, otherwise it will be deleted forever.
“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its national and legal duties, is now confident that the law passed by the Parliament has been fully enacted so far while taking into account technical considerations and national interests,” the government statement added.
Addressing a Monday evening meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei pointed to the Parliament’s strategic action plan, saying, "Majlis passed a law and the administration welcomed it. All measures that should have been taken up to yesterday were taken and, God willing, another part of that law will enter into force tomorrow.”
Referring to an existing contention between the Iranian administration and Parliament with regard to the implementation of the aforesaid law, the Leader said, “Such misunderstandings can be resolved and the two sides must endeavor to settle this issue through cooperation. Differences should not be left on their own or be intensified so as to show division [in the country]."
"The administration considers itself obligated to implement this law, and this law, which is a good law, must be meticulously implemented,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei added, “Like other issues, the Islamic Republic will not back down on the nuclear issues [in the face of Western pressures] and will continue to march forward on the basis of the country’s present and future expediencies.”
Underlining the fact that Iran will never move toward development of nuclear weapons, the Leader said, “What prevents the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons is the Islamic way of thinking and principles, which prohibit production of all kinds of weapons, including nuclear or chemical, which would be used to massacre ordinary people.”
Referring to massacre of 220,000 innocent people in the US nuclear bombardment of two Japanese cities during World War II as well as indiscriminate bombardment of Yemeni people, their markets, hospitals and schools by Western-made warplanes, Ayatollah Khamenei noted, “Massacring civilians and innocent people is the way of Americans and Western countries, but the Islamic Republic does not believe in this method and, therefore, never thinks about nuclear weapons.”
The Leader said, “In the meantime, that international Zionist clown, who keeps saying that ‘we will not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons’, must know that if the Islamic Republic had any decision to produce nuclear weapons, he and those bigger than him could not prevent it.”
"The issue of nuclear weapon is just a pretext. They are even opposed to us having access to conventional weapons, because they want to strip Iran of the components of power," Ayatollah Khamenei stressed.
The Leader warned that Western powers want Iran to be in need of their assistance the day when the country requires nuclear energy, saying, "However, we are determined to acquire nuclear capabilities proportionate to the country's needs and this is why the level of Iran's [uranium] enrichment will not remain [limited to] 20 percent and the country will take action to any extent that it needs. For example, to achieve nuclear propulsion [technology] or for other purposes, we may even increase uranium enrichment to 60 percent purity."
IAEA deal defended
In a post on his twitter account, Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said the Iran-IAEA deal is “within the framework of the law and the principles of wisdom, dignity and expediency”.
“Inspections beyond the Safeguards Agreement ended. At the same time, Iran once again showed its goodwill to the world and the IAEA,” he said.
“The art of authoritative diplomacy is to break deadlocks," he added.
‘Return to resolution’
Reminding the US of its commitments under the JCPOA in a press conference on Tuesday, Ali Rabiei, the spokesman of Iran's administration, urged Washington to immediately implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, a July 2015 resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal, IRNA reported.
He said pulling out of the resolution is a main inauspicious legacy of former US president, Donald Trump, “a point which we stressed several times, and now is being reiterated by US officials”.
In the past few days, Iranian people witnessed the coming to fruition of their resistance against Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign and the defeat of the sanctions regime, as acknowledged by top US officials, Rabiei added.
“No pressure can force Iranian people to bend their knees.”
He said Iran expects the US administration to honor its pledges in practice, which will not happen unless, in the first step, Washington immediately and completely implements Resolution 2231 like a responsible UN member.
“As we have stressed frequently, Iran will resume [complete] fulfillment of its commitments under the deal if the other signatories to the JCPOA return to Resolution 2231. To this end we stopped implementing the Additional Protocol, a step which will be reversed in case the US and other JCPOA parties return to their commitments.”
The administration of US President Joe Biden has indicated willingness to rejoin the JCPOA, but it has been dragging its feet on taking any meaningful measure to undo the former US government’s wrongs.
It has conditioned the US return to the nuclear accord on Tehran’s resumption of the commitments it has suspended under the JCPOA.
However, Tehran says it will retrace its nuclear countermeasures only after the US lifts its sanctions in a verifiable manner.
US drums up anti-Iran rhetoric
Addressing the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington is working with allies and partners seeking to “lengthen and strengthen the JCPOA” and address Iran’s regional role and missiles program.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, claimed that Iran is “a long way from compliance, and that hasn’t changed. I said that last week, and many — and I believe my colleague, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, conveyed that just yesterday. That has not changed”.
The Iranians, she added, “have clearly not taken the steps needed to comply, and we have not taken any steps or — and made any indication that we are going to meet the demands that they are putting forward either”.
Separately, State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said, "The US is concerned to hear that Iran intends to cease implementation of the Additional Protocol and other measures this week.”
“We note the announcement that Iran will continue to implement its obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA fully and without limitation, and that the IAEA and Iran have reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding regarding verification and monitoring activities.”