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Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance amid IAEA standoff

PoliticsIran nuclear deal hangs in balance amid IAEA standoff

Tehran (The Times Groupe)- As the UN nuclear watchdog pushes to pass a resolution against Tehran, tensions between Iran and the West have once again reached boiling point. IAEA

Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, said Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must resist political pressure and adhere to its constitution and mission.

He accused the agency of relying on intelligence reports from Iran’s “enemies” and of failing to take a critical view of a series of attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Eslami’s comments were in response to Rafael Grossi’s remarks at the UN nuclear agency’s board of governors meeting in Vienna on Monday, in which he said Iran failed to mitigate concerns about its nuclear program by refusing to provide answers about uranium traces at three undeclared sites.

Vienna is hosting the meeting to discuss the IAEA’s annual report for 2021, which is highly critical of Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the report, the US and its three European allies – the UK, France, and Germany – are drafting an anti-Iran resolution, which if adopted will affect Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear agency.

Observers are of the opinion that the meeting will determine the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and Vienna talks, especially if the agency adopts the resolution pushed by the US and E3.

Rafael Grossi, whose visit to Israel ahead of the IAEA board meeting sparked controversy, said the answers received by the UN nuclear agency from Iran are “not technically credible.”

According to the UN official, on his visit to Israel it sent “no message” but told the Israeli officials to “let the IAEA do its work.”

Further, he said that it would be in no one’s best interest if the agency’s cooperation with Iran decreased further, adding that both sides needed to sit down and resolve outstanding issues.

As a result, Eslami said the IAEA chief “lacks the serious will to describe Iran’s answers to the UN agency as convincing.”

Iran has a 3% share of global energy, but IAEA inspectors spend 25% of their time in the country.Iran has a 3% share of global energy, but IAEA inspectors spend 25% of their time in the country.

The top nuclear official did not specify Iran’s reaction to the potential resolution at the IAEA board of governors meeting, but he emphasized that the decision to enrich uranium to 90% purity, up from 60%, rests with the relevant officials.

In addition, he said the “resolutions being discussed” at the Vienna meeting “will not create a new situation” and that Iran will continue its “peaceful nuclear activities regardless of the outcome of the nuclear deal.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier in the day that Iran will “respond proportionately” to any action against it during the IAEA meeting.

The agency’s annual report presents a “vague and farfetched narrative” about Iran’s actions and plans, he said, adding that the resolution pushed by the US and E3 is reminiscent of Israel and should be rejected.

He said that the resolution will have a “negative impact” on Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA as well as negotiations to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, which remain stalled over key disagreements between Tehran and Washington.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Sunday that he had spoken with the EU’s external policy chief Josep Borrell about the Vienna talks, adding that those pushing for the anti-Iran resolution “will be responsible for the consequences.”

Iran and world powers signed the historic nuclear deal in 2015, which eased economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limiting the country’s nuclear activities.

After former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the deal in May 2018, sanctions against Iran were reinstated.

Iran began to backtrack on its commitments under the deal one year later, ramping up its nuclear enrichment beyond the 3.65% stipulated in the deal.

So far, there has been no significant progress in salvaging the deal since last April in Vienna.

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