The UN atomic energy watchdog said on Thursday that Iran was removing 27 surveillance cameras at its nuclear facilities, warning that this could be a fatal blow to negotiations to revive a landmark deal.
In April of last year, talks began to bring the United States back to the 2015 accord, lifting sanctions and bringing Iran back into compliance, limiting its nuclear activities.
Since March, the negotiations have stalled and raising tensions, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA members on Wednesday passed a resolution censuring Iran over its lack of cooperation with the watchdog.
Iran has condemned the motion as unconstructive as it had disconnected some IAEA cameras monitoring its nuclear sites earlier on Wednesday.
On Thursday, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters that 27 cameras were being removed in Iran.
It poses a serious challenge to our ability to continue working there. Grossi urged Iran to engage immediately if a solution could not be found within three to four weeks of the issue.
Grossi said about 40 monitoring cameras remained in the Islamic republic.
Wednesday's motion was approved by 30 of the 35 members of the IAEA board of governors, with only Russia and the Russians being included in the motion.
China's vote against Iran was the first time that it criticised Iran since June 2020.
Iran's foreign ministry has criticised the resolution submitted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany as a political, unconstructive and incorrect action. The resolution came after the IAEA said Iran failed to explain adequately the discovery of traces of uranium at three sites that Tehran had not declared as having hosted nuclear activities.
Iran, which had already responded angrily to Grossi's decision to visit Israel ahead of the board of governors meeting, accused the watchdog of relying too much on fabricated Israeli intelligence reports.
There is a firm stance taken by the countries of the world regarding the distinction between good and evil, as they clearly state that Iran is concealing things, Bennett said before going to the United Arab Emirates, a fellow Iran critic, for a previously unannounced visit on Thursday.
After the resolution was adopted, the US, Britain, France and Germany urged Iran to comply with its legal obligations and cooperate with the IAEA. The US State Department said that Iran's counter-measures were extremely regrettable and counterproductive to attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
The foreign ministry in Tehran has installed additional advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment, besides deactivating the cameras in response to the IAEA censure motion.
In return for international sanctions, the landmark agreement set limits on Iran's nuclear activities. Since then, the US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions.
Iran, which has denied any ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon capability, began rolling back its commitments under the deal.
European capitals expressed concern about how far Iran has gone in resuming nuclear activities since the US began imposing sanctions.
Iran has large stockpiles of enriched uranium, some of which are enriched to levels far higher than those needed for nuclear power generation.
The IAEA head said on Monday that it would be a matter of just a matter of weeks before Iran can obtain enough material for a nuclear weapon if it continues to develop its programme.