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UN agency chief urges Iran to resume nuclear talks ‘now’

Rafael Mariano Grossi (IAEA Imagebank/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on Iran to resume talks “now” on reviving the 2015 nuclear accord before things get “much more problematic.”

“Recent history tells us that it is never a good thing to start saying to international inspectors, go home…things get much more problematic,” IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said in an interview broadcast on June 12 on CNN.

Grossi said he was telling Iranian leaders that “we have to sit down now. We have to redress the situation, we have to continue working together.”

Iran last week turned off 27 cameras used by UN inspectors to monitor uranium enrichment in response to an impending IAEA adoption of a Western-led resolution criticizing the country for failing to cooperate.

The resolution criticizing Iran for failing to explain uranium traces found at three undeclared sites was approved by 30 members of the IAEA board, with only Russia and China voting against it, according to agency reports quoting unidentified diplomats.

Senior Iranian nuclear officials had warned that passing the resolution could seriously damage attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The sanctions returned after then-President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the United States from the accord. Talks to restore it have been stalled since April.

Tehran, which denies that its nuclear program seeks to build a bomb, has backed away from some of its commitments since 2019, and European powers have been expressing concerns over how far Iran’s nuclear activities have gone.

Grossi told CNN that without observation cameras, the IAEA will soon be unable to declare whether the Iranian nuclear program is “peaceful” or whether Iran is in the process of developing an atomic weapon.