Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

Tehran, Iran The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and Iran’s nuclear chief have reached an agreement that will prevent another crisis from arising over the prospect of restoring Iran’s nuclear deal in 2015.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), landed in Tehran late on Saturday and met on Sunday morning with Mohammad Eslami, the newly appointed head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

It was Grossi’s first trip to Tehran during the new administration of President Ebrahim Raisi, who appointed Eslami as the new nuclear chief on August 29.

Both sides call the meeting ‘constructive’ and agree that they will continue discussions on the sidelines of the agency’s general conference in Vienna later this month.

They also agreed that Grossi would soon travel to Tehran again to replace the memory cards of the agency’s monitoring cameras, which will still be held in Iran in accordance with a law passed by the hardline Iranian parliament in December.

Iran has said since February that it will only hand over the ties to the agency after reaching an agreement in Vienna that would lift unilateral sanctions in the United States.

“What is important to us, and the agency also emphasizes, is to build trust,” Eslami said after the meeting.

High enrichment

The meeting comes days after two new confidential IAEA reports were shared with the media, showing the agency’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the reports, Iran failed to cooperate adequately with the agency’s recording equipment, some of which may have been destroyed after an incident, while resuming high uranium enrichment, and in several places did not provide a full explanation about core material.

Iran doubled after the reports and called on the agency to maintain its independence and refrain from political movements.

Avoid rejection

Grossi will return to Vienna immediately, where he is expected to hold a news conference later Sunday.

The meeting was reportedly facilitated on the last Sunday by Russia, which was not in favor of a resolution against Iran during the next conference of the IAEA board of governors, as it could derail talks on nuclear agreements.

President Raisi warned earlier this month that censorship of Iran during the conference hosted by the Austrian capital could have a negative effect on the return to the negotiating table, to which Iran has concluded its sixth round of talks since July 20. did not return.

A similar temporary technical agreement between Iran and the IAEA on monitoring at the end of February also averted a censorship scenario, led by the US with support from Europe, at the agency’s previous conference.

Raisi, who took office in early August, said he wanted to continue talks in Vienna but would not negotiate for the sake of negotiations.

Avoiding a resolution against Iran would anger opponents of the nuclear deal, especially Israel, for restoring the deal. Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, on Sunday called for more sanctions against Iran to force an agreement.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015 by Iran, the USA, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia. But the US unilaterally dropped it in 2018 and imposed severe sanctions.

In response to the sanctions, attacks on its nuclear facilities and the assassination of a leading nuclear scientist, Iran has gradually strengthened its nuclear program and now enriches uranium to 60 percent, the highest level ever.

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