UN nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi is scheduled for talks in Iran on Sunday that may ease a standoff between Tehran and the West just as he threatens to escalate and thwart negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal.
Grossi arrived in Tehran overnight, Iranian state media said, ahead of next week’s meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA and Iran’s envoy to the agency said they would meet with the new head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami.
Grossi is expected to hold a press conference at Vienna airport around 8:30 pm (1830 GMT) after returning later on Sunday, the IAEA said.
The IAEA informed member states this week that there has been no progress on two central issues: explaining the traces of uranium found at several ancient undeclared sites and gaining urgent access to some monitoring equipment so the agency can continue to track parts of the program. Iran nuclear. as foreseen in the 2015 agreement.
Indirect, independent talks between the United States and Iran on their return to compliance with the agreement have been on hold since June. Washington and its European allies have been urging the hardline government of President Ebrahim Raisi, which took office in August, to return to talks.
Under the 2015 agreement between Iran and major powers, Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reintroducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded beginning in 2019 by breaching many of the agreement’s basic restrictions, such as enriching uranium to a higher purity, closer to that suitable for use in nuclear weapons.
Western powers must decide whether to push for a resolution criticizing Iran and increasing pressure on it for hampering the IAEA at next week’s meeting of the agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors. A resolution could jeopardize the resumption of talks on the deal, as Tehran rages at such moves.
The countries of the IAEA Board of Governors will be watching Grossi’s visit to see if Iran will back down by granting access to the monitoring equipment for repair or offering the possibility of answers about the uranium particles found in the former undeclared sites.