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Iran expresses ‘readiness’ to cooperate with IAEA

Tehran will allow the IAEA to reinstall monitoring equipment removed last year amid stalled nuclear talks, but inspectors will not be granted access to several sensitive sites.

Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.
Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.

Iran has indicated its “readiness” to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, after the U.N. nuclear watchdog last month found uranium enriched to 83.7% in the Islamic Republic.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi was in Tehran for two days of high-level meetings that “addressed the importance of taking steps in order to facilitate enhanced cooperation, to expedite as appropriate the resolution of outstanding safeguards issues,” according to a statement released by the parties on Saturday.

The statement said that the sides agreed to:

• Interactions between the IAEA and Iran will be carried out in a spirit of collaboration, and in full conformity with the competences of the IAEA and the rights and obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, based on the comprehensive safeguards agreement.

• Regarding the outstanding safeguards issues related to the three locations, Iran expressed its readiness to continue its cooperation and provide further information and access to address the outstanding safeguards issues.

• Iran, on a voluntary basis, will allow the IAEA to implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities. Modalities will be agreed between the two sides in the course of a technical meeting which will take place soon in Tehran.

Specifically, Grossi said that Tehran will allow the IAEA to reinstall some monitoring equipment that was removed last year amid stalled talks to revive the moribund 2015 nuclear deal.

However, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that inspectors would not be given access to several sensitive sites regarding which the IAEA is seeking clarifications of past nuclear work.

Grossi said that follow-up talks in Iran aimed at hammering out the details of the informal agreement would take place “very, very soon.”

The IAEA has confirmed in a report that its inspectors found enriched uranium to 83.7 percent at Iran’s underground nuclear site in Fordow. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the confidential quarterly report stating that “particles” of the substance, just below the 90% enrichment level considered “military grade,” had been detected.

The IAEA confirmed that on Jan. 21, two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant had been configured in a manner “substantially different” from what had been previously declared. Inspectors took samples at the site the following day, which showed traces of uranium enriched up to 83.7%, the report said.

Iran has been enriching uranium to up to 60% since April 2021. Several months ago, it began enriching to 60% at a second site at Fordow.

The new IAEA report pegged Iran’s uranium stockpile as of Feb. 12 at some 3,760 kilograms (8,289 pounds)—an increase of 87.1 kilograms (192 pounds) since its last quarterly report, in November. Of that, 87.5 kilograms (192 pounds) is enriched up to 60%.

On Tuesday, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl warned that Tehran could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb in under two weeks, comments that echoed those made in an interview aired over the weekend by CIA chief William Burns.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that history has shown that in the absence of a credible military threat or actual military action, Iran will become a nuclear power.

“The longer you wait, the harder that becomes [to prevent]. We’ve waited very long. I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is not merely an Israeli interest; it’s an American interest; it’s in the interest of the entire world,” he said.

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