Iran invites IAEA chief for talks ahead of clash with Western diplomats


UN nuclear oversight chief Rafael Grossi will travel to Tehran this weekend for talks that could ease an impasse between Iran and the West, just as it threatens to escalate and derail negotiations on relaunching the Iran nuclear deal.
Three diplomats who closely follow the International Atomic Energy Agency told Reuters that Grossi’s trip ahead of next week’s meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors, made up of 35 countries, was confirmed. Two said he would meet with the new head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, on Sunday.

The IAEA and Iran’s envoy to the agency subsequently confirmed the trip and meeting.

“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will meet with Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and AEOI Chief Mohammad Eslami in Tehran on Sunday,” IAEA said, adding that Grossi was scheduled to hold a press conference in Vienna airport. around 8:30 p.m. (6.30 p.m. GMT) on Sunday.

The IAEA informed member states this week that there has been no progress on two central issues: explaining the traces of uranium found at several old undeclared sites and obtaining urgent access to some surveillance equipment so that the agency can continue to monitor parts of Iran’s nuclear program. as provided for by the 2015 agreement.

DELEGATES ARE WAITING for the start of talks on relaunching the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria, last month (EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA / DOCUMENT VIA REUTERS).

Separate and indirect talks between the United States and Iran on returning to compliance with the agreement have been halted since June. Washington and its European allies have urged the hard-line administration of President Ebrahim Raisi, who took office in August, to resume talks.

As part of the 2015 deal between Iran and the great powers, Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

PUNISHMENTS

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, reintroducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded from 2019 by violating many fundamental restrictions of the agreement, such as enriching uranium to a higher purity, closer to that appropriate for use in nuclear weapons.

Western powers must decide whether to push for a resolution criticizing Iran and increasing pressure on it to block the IAEA at next week’s meeting of the agency’s 35-country board of governors. A resolution could jeopardize the resumption of talks on the deal as Tehran bristles with such measures.

Iran’s foreign ministry has warned against such a resolution.

“I hope that the Governing Council, under the influence of certain pressures, will not take any action that destroys the customary process of cooperation between Iran and the agency,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, reported the Fars news agency.

The European parties to the 2015 agreement – Britain, France and Germany – held a meeting with the United States in Paris on Friday to discuss how to respond to the IAEA board of directors and consider options if Iran continues to block the resumption of negotiations. But diplomats said no decision had yet been made.

IAEA Board of Governors countries to follow Grossi’s visit to see if Iran gives in by granting access to surveillance equipment to maintain it or offers the prospect of uranium particle responses found on old, undeclared sites.

Steps on these issues would make a resolution against Iran less likely, diplomats said.


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