UN atomic surveillance chief visits Iran, calls for better access to nuclear sites

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The head of the United Nations atomic monitoring agency will visit Tehran next week to pressure Iranian authorities to gain access to sites where the country has allegedly stored or used undeclared nuclear material, said on Saturday. organization.It will be the first visit to Iran by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi since taking office last December and comes amid intense international pressure on the country to about its nuclear program.

The focus will be on access to sites believed to date back to the early 2000s, before Iran signed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Iran maintains that IAEA inspectors have no legal basis for inspecting sites.

“My goal is for my meetings in Tehran to lead to concrete progress in addressing the outstanding issues the agency has related to safeguards in Iran and, in particular, in resolving the issue of access,” Grossi said in a statement.

“I also hope to establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue with the Iranian government which will be valuable now and in the future. ”

The Iranian delegation to international organizations in Vienna tweeted that “we hope this visit will lead to enhanced mutual cooperation”.

Since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, the other countries concerned – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – have had to hard to keep him alive.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, promises economic incentives to Iran in return for restrictions on its nuclear program. But with the reinstatement of some US sanctions, the Iranian economy continues to deteriorate and Tehran has started to violate the terms of the agreement to try to pressure other countries to do more to offset these sanctions. .

The United States is increasing the pressure

At the same time, Iran has continued to provide IAEA inspectors with access to its nuclear facilities – one of the main reasons why countries still party to the agreement stress the importance of it. keep alive.

Last week, the United States stepped up the pressure, formally informing the United Nations that it was demanding the reinstatement of all UN sanctions against Iran, arguing that Iran was in non-compliance and citing a provision in the nuclear deal to “go back” even further. punishments.

This photo released on November 5, 2019 by the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization shows centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via Associated Press)

Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, who often disagree, have all declared the US action illegal, arguing that it is impossible to withdraw from a deal and use then the resolution which approved it to reimpose sanctions.

Iran has also rejected the move, but the United States has stuck to its guns, saying a 30-day countdown to the resumption of eased sanctions after signing the 2015 accord has begun.

The five nations and Iran are scheduled to meet in Vienna on September 1.

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