Tuesday, February 23, 2021

IAEA chief: Iran will restrict inspectors’ access, but allow monitoring of the nuclear program


International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Tehran would restrict the agency’s inspectors from accessing nuclear facilities, but would allow the agency to monitor its nuclear program.

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The visit of the head of the IAEA to Iran was related to Tehran’s plan to stop implementing various measures as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as of February 23. Grossi said the IAEA will be able to continue the “necessary” verification and monitoring activities in Iran. “What we agreed is feasible, needed to fill the gap we have, now saves the day,” Grossi said at a press conference.

The head of the IAEA gave little detail about the deal he reached with Iranian leaders. He said Tehran would restrict inspectors’ access but allow the agency to monitor its nuclear program. He added that the number of inspectors in the field would remain the same, but “the type of activities is changing” that the agency will be able to carry out. He stressed that the monitoring would continue “in a satisfactory manner”.

Rafael Grossi spoke just after his return from IranEPA / FLORIAN WIESER

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif previously said the restrictions would include blocking the IAEA from accessing camera recordings at nuclear facilities.

Tehran threatened Monday to block unannounced IAEA inspections from next week if other parties to the nuclear deal fail to fulfill their obligations. The spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Said Chatibzadeh, made a reservation that “this does not mean the end of all inspections (made) by the UN agency”.

Nuclear deal

In 2015, Iran signed a nuclear agreement with six world powers (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany). Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in return for lifting economic sanctions imposed on it. In May 2018, the then US president, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew his country from this agreement, pointing to Iran’s implementation of a ballistic missile program. When the US reintroduced sanctions on Iran in the aftermath of the pact, Tehran gradually officially abandoned its commitments, and a series of incidents led both countries to the brink of armed conflict.

The new US president, Joe Biden, has announced that his country will rejoin the agreement if Tehran returns to strict compliance with its obligations. Tehran demands the same of Washington.

Main photo source: EPA / FLORIAN WIESER



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