Exclusive-Iran invites IAEA chief for pre-demonstration talks with West diplomats

FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency director general Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi attends a news conference during the Board of Governors meeting at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

September 11, 2021

by Francois Murphy, Parisa Hafezzi and John Irish

VIENNA (Reuters) – UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi will fly to Tehran later this week in a bid to ease the standoff between Iran and the West, as it seeks to enhance talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal and carries the risk of spoiling, diplomats said on Saturday.

Three diplomats who closely follow the International Atomic Energy Agency said Grossi’s visit was confirmed ahead of a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors next week.

Others said they had yet to receive word of confirmation.

The IAEA was not immediately available for comment.

Two diplomats said Grossi was due to arrive in Tehran on Sunday before meeting with the new head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami.

The IAEA informed member states this week that no progress has been made on two central issues: interpreting traces of uranium found at several old, undeclared sites and gaining immediate access to some surveillance equipment so that the agency is responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear program. Keep an eye on some parts. As provided by the 2015 deal.

Separate, indirect talks between the United States and Iran on returning to compliance with the agreement have stalled since June. Washington and its European allies are urging the administration of hardline President Ibrahim Raisi, who took office in August, to return to talks.

Under a 2015 agreement between Iran and the major powers, Tehran agreed to ban its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.


President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, re-introducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded by 2019 by violating several core sanctions of the deal, such as enriching uranium to high purity, close to suitable for use in nuclear weapons.

Western powers will have to decide whether to push for a resolution critical of Iran at a meeting of the agency’s 35-nation board of governors next week and pressure the IAEA to stop. An offer could jeopardize the resumption of negotiations on the deal as Tehran insists on such moves.

The European sides to the 2015 deal – Britain, France and Germany – held a meeting with the United States in Paris on Friday to discuss how to respond to the IAEA board and to review options if Iran talks. On returning but continues to stop. But diplomats said no decision had been taken yet.

The country of the IAEA Board of Governors will keep an eye on Grossi’s visit to see if Iran offers the possibility of an answer either on granting access to surveillance equipment or on uranium particles found at undisclosed former sites.

Diplomats say that taking action on those issues will reduce the chances of a resolution being brought against Iran.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna, Perissa Hafezzi in Dubai and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Jason Neely and Andrew Cawthorne)


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