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Iran, IAEA agree to continued but limited nuclear inspections

Iran, IAEA agree to continued but limited nuclear inspections

dpa
Vienna/Washington
Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached a temporary agreement on continued nuclear inspections on Sunday, but access will be reduced, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said after returning from Tehran to Vienna.
Tehran had announced this week that it would curb access for IAEA inspectors starting next Tuesday, in a bid to pressure the United States into lifting sanctions and returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and major powers.
“There is less access, but still we were able to retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification” in Iran, Grossi said.
When the UN nuclear chief was asked whether he would still be able to check if Iran’s nuclear activities were purely peaceful or aimed at building nuclear weapons, he said: “Not as I was before, but in a satisfactory manner.” The compromise deal that Grossi reached in talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi is only temporary and will last three months.
Grossi stressed that the tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme and its fraying nuclear deal will have to be solved not by him but on the bigger political stage.
The nuclear deal was reached in 2015 in an effort to prevent Iran from being able to produce nuclear weapons. Sanctions were lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities.
But Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018, arguing that it did not do enough to stop Iran from being a regional troublemaker.
One year later, Iran started slowly backing out of the deal by breaking key limits on uranium enrichment and uranium metal, two materials that have peaceful applications but can also be used to make warheads.
Last week, Washington said the US was was prepared to re-engage in diplomacy, raising hopes for a revival of the badly damaged accord.
US President Joe Biden is “prepared to go to the table to talk to the Iranians, about how we get strict constraints back on their nuclear programme,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS News on Sunday.
“That offer still stands, because we believe diplomacy is the best way to do it,” Sullivan added.
“Iran has not yet responded. But what’s happened as a result is that the script has been flipped it is Iran that is isolated now diplomatically, not the United States, and the ball is in their court.” The new US administration wants to come back to the treaty if Iran adheres to its obligations again.
Foreign Minister Zarif reiterated on Sunday that Washington must make the first step and lift its sanctions. The punitive measures have led to the worst economic crisis in Iran’s history, in particular sanctions on vital oil exports.
“The US is addicted to sanctions, bullying, and pressure,” Zarif told Iranian broadcaster Press TV.
The minister also dismissed US plans for further negotiations with Iran on its missile programme and its role in various regional conflicts.

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