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UN nuclear chief in Tehran for talks

Grossi's visit comes at a time of heightened regional tensions in the wake of Iran's direct attack on Israel.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi at an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Sept. 14, 2020. Photo by Dean Calma/IAEA via Wikimedia Commons.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi at an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Sept. 14, 2020. Photo by Dean Calma/IAEA via Wikimedia Commons.

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran on Monday, where he is expected to speak at a conference and meet officials for talks on Iran’s nuclear expansion.

According to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency, International Atomic Energy Agency Director Rafael Grossi was scheduled to “participate in the nuclear conference and negotiate with top nuclear and political officials.”

Grossi was expected to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as well as Mohammad Eslami, head of the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Grossi’s visit comes on the background of heightened regional tensions in the wake of Iran‘s April 14 direct attack on Israel and with the IAEA criticizing Tehran for its lack of cooperation on inspections and other outstanding nuclear issues.

Grossi told German media last month that Iran was “weeks rather than months” away from having enough enriched uranium to build a bomb. In late December, the IAEA said Iran had tripled its enrichment level to 60%, which is just a short technical step away from 90% weapons-grade.

“I have been telling my Iranian counterparts time and again … , this activity raises eyebrows and compounded with the fact that we are not getting the necessary degree of access and visibility that I believe should be necessary,” the U.N. nuclear chief told Deutsche Welle on April 22.

“When you put all of that together, then, of course, you end up with lots of question marks,” Grossi added. The IAEA is expected to issue its next report on Iran’s nuclear progress next month.

Earlier this month, Tehran threatened to reconsider its official nuclear doctrine amid the direct military confrontation with Israel, with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warning its “hands are on the trigger.”

Tehran engaged in an unprecedented attack on the Jewish state on April 14, launching a massive drone and missile assault.

Israel allegedly responded with a limited strike on an Iranian airbase on April 19. The Shikari Air Base is located close to the Natanz nuclear site in Isfahan and is reportedly supposed to protect the heavily guarded facility.

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