Iran, IAEA signal some progress on access to nuclear program

13 September, 2021
Source: Bloomberg

The U.N. nuclear watchdog signaled progress in talks with Iranian officials in Tehran over access to the country’s expanding program, yet prospects for reviving the crippled atomic deal with world powers remain unclear. Tehran said International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would be able to replace damaged surveillance cameras and memory cards at atomic sites following a “constructive” meeting with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on Sunday. 

“We managed to rectify the most urgent issue, which was the imminent loss of knowledge,” Grossi said at a press briefing following his return to Vienna. “Now we have a solution.” The pact to ensure surveillance data isn’t lost at Iranian centrifuge workshops and uranium mines stops short of fully restoring the expanded access for IAEA monitors granted under the 2015 nuclear accord. It may buy envoys time for broader negotiations with world powers aimed at reviving the agreement.

Grossi said his trip to the Iranian capital, where he met with Iran’s new nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami, was intended to bridge “a major communication breakdown” that had stifled the exchange of information with his inspectors. The Argentine diplomat said he’ll return “very soon” to Tehran for discussions with the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi. 

Sunday’s agreement allows IAEA surveillance cameras to continue recording activity inside key Iranian facilities. Should the broader deal be revived, which reins in Iran’s nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief, IAEA officials will receive the camera footage. Until then, Iran’s Eslami said the old memory cards will remain sealed in Tehran.


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