By EMILY SCHULTHEIS, Associated Press
VIENNA (AP) – The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog on Monday urged Iran to cooperate with its inspectors amid a standoff over its nuclear program and a threat from Western nations to censure Tehran for its non-cooperation.
“We have to acknowledge that we have not been able to achieve the results that we expected,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Vienna.
“This will be a reminder for Iran, for us and for everyone that we really need to get down to work and sort out these issues that have been open for too long,” Grossi added.
Grossi spoke on the first day of the IAEA board meeting in Vienna, which lasts until Friday.
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The meeting comes at a tense time for the future of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has restricted IAEA surveillance activities for more than a year and failed to provide what Grossi called “credible information” about detected nuclear material at three of Iran’s sites.
Additionally, talks between senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia to discuss bringing Tehran back into line with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action stalled earlier this year. The pact eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
The United States, under former President Donald Trump, withdrew from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to resume its uranium enrichment.
Grossi said he was neither for nor against a possible vote to blame Iran during this week’s meeting, stressing the importance of continued cooperation with Iran despite recent tensions.
“I think it is in nobody’s interest that cooperation between the agency and Iran continues to decrease,” he said.
Still, without proper cooperation from Iran, there is a “dead end” between the agency and the Iranian leadership, Grossi said. “These problems will not go away – they will not be solved, they will not be resolved.”
Grossi reiterated his warnings that Iran is nearing the amount of nuclear material needed to build a bomb and said Monday they were “very, very close” to acquiring a “significant amount” of that material.
He said Iran could reach that amount in a few weeks. However, he emphasized that having enough material for a bomb and making a bomb are two different things.
On February 19, the IAEA said Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium were nearly 3,200 kilograms (7,055 pounds). Some have been enriched to 60% purity – a short technical step from 90% weapons grade. Meanwhile, Iran has blocked the IAEA from accessing footage from its surveillance cameras.
While Iran insists its program is peaceful, the IAEA and Western governments say Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003.
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