Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Grossi says IAEA team to visit Iran within days

Rafael Grossi Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has voiced cautious optimism that Iran will boost inspectors’ access and restore monitoring equipment. Grossi said he’s sending a technical team in the next few days to follow up on Tehran’s commitments.

“I hope there won’t be any trouble,” Grossi told Al-Monitor during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

Grossi was in Washington on Wednesday to update the Joe Biden administration officials on Iran’s latest nuclear activities and the “constructive role” the Vienna-based agency can play in efforts to salvage the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Earlier this month, Grossi met with President Ebrahim Raisi and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami in Tehran.

At the end of the two-day visit, Grossi and Eslami issued a joint statement in which the two sides agreed to take steps aimed at facilitating enhanced cooperation and expediting the resolution of outstanding safeguards issues.

Following his visit, Grossi said Iran agreed to restore monitoring equipment, including surveillance cameras that Tehran removed last summer. The Iranians, Grossi added, also agreed to increase inspections by 50% at the underground Fordow nuclear site.

“My understanding is that we have agreed on these things,” Grossi continued, stating, “I know what I agreed [to] in Tehran, and we are sending our technical team to work on that. If there is a problem, I will report it.”

“We still need to start the process of getting these additional, further monitoring and verification capacities,” Grossi added.

The process could take “maybe weeks or days.”

The AEOI’s spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, has stated that the latest agreements reached between Tehran and the United Nations’ atomic watchdog during the visit by Grossi comply with the strategic law passed by the Iranian parliament.

He has rejected allegations that Iran has agreed to give the nuclear agency access to certain people, saying, “During the two days that Mr. Grossi and his accompanying delegation were in Iran, no discussion was made of access to people and no text has been drawn up on this issue.”

“Of course, even if such a request had been made, it would have been definitely turned down [by Iran],” he emphasized.

Kamalvandi also explained about a 50-percent increase in the IAEA’s inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, adding, “Since [uranium] enrichment to 60-percent purity level had been started for the first time at Fordow [nuclear] facility, the number of inspections had to increase in line with the Safeguards [Agreement between Iran and the agency].”

“Basically, when the enrichment level increases or more sensitive materials are introduced into a facility, the number of inspections increases based on a mutual agreement between the two sides,” he added.

Therefore, the spokesperson noted, the number of Fordow inspections, which previously stood at eight, was increased to 11 in view of the increased level of enrichment there.

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