IAEA chief Grossi wants to deepen cooperation with Iran

DUBAI (REUTERS) – UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Tuesday (Nov 23) that he wanted to deepen cooperation with Iran in his talks in Teheran, days before the resumption of negotiations between the Islamic Republic and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week issued reports detailing its conflicts with Iran, from rough treatment of its inspectors to re-installing cameras it deems “essential” for the revival of the nuclear deal.

“The agency is seeking to continue and deepen the dialogue with the government of Iran … We agreed to continue our joint work on transparency and this will continue,” Grossi, who arrived in Tehran on Monday, told a televised news conference.

Teheran and Washington will resume indirect negotiations on Nov 29 in Vienna, which have been on hold since June, to find ways to reinstate the deal that former US President Donald Trump exited three years ago and then reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran.

Teheran responded by breaching key limits on nuclear activity set by the accord, including rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up output.

A failure of diplomacy to bring back Tehran and Washington into compliance with the nuclear deal would carry the risk of a fresh regional war.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signalled readiness on Tuesday to step up Israel’s confrontation with Iran and reiterated that his country would not be bound by any new nuclear deal.

In September, Western powers at the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors scrapped plans for a resolution against Iran after Teheran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities. But they still demand Iranian action on two central issues – explaining uranium traces found at three undeclared sites and granting IAEA inspectors access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop to replace the agency’s monitoring cameras there.

The workshop was the victim of apparent sabotage in June in which one of four IAEA cameras there was destroyed. Iran has not returned that camera’s “data storage medium” and the IAEA said it had asked Iran to locate it and explain.

“Some questions were raised based on documents published by our enemies. These questions have now been answered,” Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, said after meeting with Grossi.

Grossi later met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian for the first time, who urged the IAEA to”continue to cooperate with Iran in the context of its technical duties, and avoid taking political positions”, state media said.

Diplomats say no action is likely to be taken against Iran when the board meets on Nov 24, for fear of harming the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers.

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