Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

UN Nuclear Chief to Visit Tehran Monday: Iran Atomic Agency

Wed 17 Nov 2021 | 03:57 PM
Ahmad El-Assasy

As several important dates approach, the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog will visit Tehran on Monday to discuss Iran's nuclear programme, according to the spokesman for Iran's atomic agency.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressed alarm on November 12 over the absence of interaction with the Iranian leadership, calling it "astonishing."

He expressed his desire to meet Iranian officials ahead of the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting, which is slated for next week, FRANCE 24 reported.

"I have not had any interaction with this government... that has been in place for more than five months," Grossi said at the time, adding that the only exceptions were "technical chats" with Iran's new atomic energy chief Mohamed Eslami.

Three days later, Iran reacted by inviting the UN nuclear chief to visit Tehran.

Iran's atomic agency spokeswoman told Fars news agency on Wednesday that the agency's chief "will arrive in Tehran on the evening of Monday, November 22."

On Tuesday, Grossi will meet with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohamed Eslami, according to the spokeswoman.

Grossi's most recent trip to Tehran was in September when he reached an agreement on access to monitoring equipment at Iran's nuclear sites.

However, the IAEA reported a few days later that it was denied "indispensable" access to a unit at the TESA complex in Karaj, outside Tehran, in violation of the September agreement.

The accusation was refuted by Iran's representative to the IAEA, who tweeted that "items connected to this complex are not included for service," referring to IAEA operations on monitoring equipment.

After Tehran indicated it was looking into the possibilities, the IAEA "categorically" denied its cameras were used in a June attack on the TESA site.

Grossi's visit comes ahead of the restart of nuclear talks in Vienna on November 29, which have been deadlocked since June.

The negotiations are aimed at reviving a 2015 deal that exempted Iran from sanctions in exchange for significant restrictions on its nuclear programme.

Under President Donald Trump's administration, the United States unilaterally exited the agreement in 2018.

As a result, Iran began reneging on its nuclear deal commitments in 2019, notably expanding its uranium enrichment.

In a phone chat with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stated that Iran is "totally serious" about the nuclear talks.

Iran is "equally serious about our people's rights to have sanctions lifted," Raisi stressed.

In a phone chat with his Russian counterpart, his foreign minister urged the West not to put "excessive expectations" on Tehran in the discussions.

The remaining signatories to the pact, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, will attend the Vienna discussions, while the United States will participate in negotiations indirectly.