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Iran to evade IAEA censure after ‘concrete’ commitments

Assurances were made to U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi during his two-day visit to Tehran.

IAEA headquarters in Vienna. Credit: iaea.org.
IAEA headquarters in Vienna. Credit: iaea.org.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not planning to censure Iran during this week’s board of governors meeting in Vienna after “concrete” commitments were made to be more transparent.

Three Western diplomats told AFP on the first day of the meeting Monday that no new resolution was forthcoming following assurances given to the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, during his visit to Tehran this past Friday and Saturday.

Grossi’s visit was prompted by an IAEA report revealing that inspectors in Iran had discovered uranium enriched to 83.7% purity at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, which is close to the 90% considered weapons grade. Tehran previously said it would limit enrichment at its Fordow facility to 60%.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67%, enough for peaceful and civil use.

At a Saturday news conference, 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 agreement.

However, IAEA 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.

It was also agreed that the pace of inspections would be increased. However, on Monday, Grossi conceded that the agreements would hinge to a large extent on future negotiations.

At the last meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors in November, a resolution was passed criticizing Iran for its lack of cooperation with the agency.

Israel maintains that the military option must be on the table for the negotiations to have credibility. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticized as “unworthy” Grossi’s statement a day earlier that any attack on Iran’s nuclear program would be illegal.

“Against which law?” said Netanyahu at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “Is Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, permitted to defend the destructive weapons that would slaughter us? Are we permitted to defend ourselves? It is clear that we are, and it is clear that we will do so.”

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