UN nuclear organization urges Iran to gain access | The northern daily guide



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The head of the United Nations nuclear regulatory agency has asked Iranian officials for more access to the Islamic Republic before talks resume over the broken nuclear deal with world powers. Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency faces tight-rope talks with Iranian officials again as its inspectors continue to lack access to surveillance footage and face greater challenges as they attempt to monitor Tehran’s rapidly growing uranium supplies. After the unilateral withdrawal of then President Donald Trump from the Iran deal, the Islamic Republic is now enriching small amounts of uranium with a purity of up to 60 percent – the highest value ever achieved and close to weapon quality of 90 percent. While Iran holds on to its program, regional rival Israel has repeatedly warned that Tehran will not allow a nuclear weapon to be built and is suspected of launching attacks on its program. The US, under President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has agreed to revert to the deal, but has warned that time is running out. Iran has taken a tougher course ahead of talks under new President Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On Tuesday, Grossi made his third visit since February to the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s civilian nuclear agency, and spoke to her new boss, Mohammad Eslami. In 2008, the UN sanctioned Eslami for “participating in, directly relating to, or assisting in the proliferation of sensitive nuclear activities in Iran or the development of delivery systems for nuclear weaponsâ€. After her presentation, Eslami described the ongoing problems as “technical” and not dominated by the “political questions and conspiracies” of the Iranian enemies. Grossi, for his part, described the talks as “intensive”. Under a confidential agreement with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyzes images from a number of surveillance cameras installed on Iranian nuclear facilities. These cameras helped him monitor Tehran’s program to see if it was complying with the nuclear deal. The Iranian parliament passed a draft law in December 2020 that would suspend some of the UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if the European signatories do not grant relief on oil and banking sanctions by February. The IAEA has no longer been able to access the images from these cameras since February. As part of the agreement, the IAEA also affixed around 2,000 tamper-evident seals to nuclear material and equipment. These seals are sent electronically to the inspectors. The inspectors do not have access to this data, which makes it very difficult to monitor Iranian stocks of enriched uranium. The agency has also requested to monitor activities at a centrifuge parts manufacturing site near the northern town of Karaj. The IAEA has not had access there since June after Iran said a sabotage attack on Israel severely damaged the facility and an IAEA camera there. In a separate report to IAEA member states earlier this month, the agency said Grossi was concerned about inspectors “being subjected to overly invasive physical searches by security officers at nuclear facilities in Iran”. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Israel described the Iranian nuclear program as “very advanced” without giving any details. Before resuming nuclear talks between the world powers and Iran, Bennett said he expected “disagreements with our best friends”. “Either way, even with a return to an agreement, Israel is of course not part of the agreement. Israel is not bound by it,” he said at a security conference in Herzliya. “We will keep our freedom of action.” Australian Associated Press




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