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Monday, September 27, 2021

Iran, IAEA reach agreement after ‘constructive’ meeting to revive nuclear talks

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The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran reached an agreement during a meeting in Tehran on Sunday.

An agreement to resume stalled nuclear talks has been reached between the United Nations atomic watchdog and Iran, authorities confirmed on Sunday, as hopes to work towards restoring the 2015 deal emerge once more.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Rafael Grossi made a last-minute trip to Tehran late on Saturday where he met the Islamic Republic’s new head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Mohammad Eslami, who was recently appointed by Iran’s newest president Ebrahim Raisi.

Both Grossi and Eslami concurred that discussions will continue on the sidelines of the general conference in Vienna later in September.

As part of the agreement, Grossi is set to return to Tehran soon to replace memory cards installed into the IAEAs monitoring cameras. Iran has held its stance that it will keep the memory cards in the country until an agreement to lift US sanctions is reached at the talks.

The IAEA chief said the agreement guarantees continuity of data recording for the agency.

“We managed to rectify the most urgent issue: The imminent loss of knowledge we were confronted with until yesterday. Now we have a solution,” said Grossi upon his return to Vienna.

Western powers have engaged in nuclear talks in Vienna in hopes of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord in 2018.

The Vienna talks concluded in June. Under Raisi, who was elected in August, Iran is expected resume the Vienna nuclear talks this month.

Coordinator of the stalled nuclear talks, European Union Political Director Enrique Mora, said the agreement “gives space for diplomacy”, emphasising the importance for the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible.

Read also: EU official says Iran nuclear talks to resume in September as Raisi takes office

The meeting between Grossi and Eslami came just days after new confidential IAEA reports were revealed, accusing Iran of failing to cooperate with the watchdog’s monitoring and recording equipment, some of which may have been destroyed after an incident.

The reports also mentioned that Iran is resuming high enrichment of uranium. The 2015 agreement introduced monitoring of extra areas of Iran’s nuclear programme. In February, Iran said it would be abandoning monitoring that covers areas like the manufacturing of parts for centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, until a deal is reached.

Grossi said all damaged or destroyed cameras will soon be replaced and affirmed the UN agency would not abandon the outstanding issues of Iran’s uranium enrichment as well as the discovery of undisclosed particles at several Iranian nuclear sites that could potentially be used to make a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, Iran has called on the IAEA to maintain its independence and refrain from political moves.

In response to sanctions by Washington, attacks on its nuclear facilities, and the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Tehran has ramped up its nuclear programme, and is now enriching uranium to 60%, its highest level thus far.


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