IAEA says inspections key to returning to Iran nuclear deal
Vienna, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- The chief of the UN-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday said international inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities are essential and should not be an obstacle to any talks on the nuclear agreement that Tehran signed with six world powers in 2015.
In a press conference held after the IAEA Board of Governors opening meeting in Vienna, Rafael Grossi stressed the importance of preserving the inspection work for a possible return to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“The inspection work of the IAEA must be preserved… (and) should not be put in the middle of a negotiating table as a bargaining chip,” warned Grossi, after Tehran’s recent restrictions on the IAEA inspectors’ access to nuclear facilities in the country.
“It is a huge loss,” Grossi said when asked about the extent of the limitations on the agency’s inspections.
Iran and the United States are attempting to kickstart negotiations in order to bring both sides back into the agreement.
US President Joe Biden wants to revive the nuclear deal that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from in 2018. He has insisted that the Islamic republic will be made to fulfill its nuclear commitments, while Tehran demands Washington lift sanctions first.
Nuclear inspections are the essence of the IAEA work, said Grossi, who warned that an agreement without inspections will not be possible.
Iran and the world’s six major powers (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) clinched a deal in 2015, limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions and strict routine inspections by the IAEA.
In response to the US withdrawal from the Iranian deal three years ago and the imposition of crippling economic sanctions, the Islamic republic has gradually broken key commitments in the JCPOA.
On Feb. 23, Iran’s parliament passed a law limiting the IAEA inspections, in an attempt to pressure Biden into returning to the deal.
The IAEA director-general signed an interim three-month agreement with Iran that would allow inspections to continue last month.
During the IAEA meeting, the E3 group of France, Germany, and the UK criticized the restrictions on the inspections and urged Iran to “immediately” allow full access to the UN nuclear watchdog.
Meanwhile, Iran Sunday night ruled out holding an unofficial meeting proposed by the European Union with the JCPOA signatories, including the US.
“This is not a good time for holding an unofficial meeting,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. EFE-EPA