The head of the UN nuclear watchdog is expected to visit Iran later this week as the country is preparing to drastically scale back its cooperation with the international body, including banning short-notice inspections.
The upcoming visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) director general, Rafael Grossi, was announced Wednesday by Iran’s envoy to the watchdog, Kazem Gharibabadi.
“IAEA DG travels to Tehran on Saturday for technical discussions with the Atomic Energy Organization (of Iran) on how to continue cooperation in the light of new arrangements and development,” Gharibabadi wrote on Twitter, without providing any further detail.
The snap visit comes after Tehran confirmed its plans to drastically scale back its cooperation with the IAEA under the crumbling 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran said it would stop implementation of the so-called Additional Protocol, which grants the IAEA powers to perform short-notice inspections at locations linked to the Iranian nuclear program. The transparency measure enabled the watchdogs’ experts to check such facilities without the need to declare their visits beforehand.
The new step away from the landmark agreement was decided under an act of Iran’s parliament in December, and comes into force as the country continues to pressure Washington into returning to the deal.
On Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged US President Joe Biden to take some real steps to salvage the agreement, stressing that mere “nice words and promises” from Washington were not enough.
“Words are of no use. This time, it will only be about actions. Once we see action from the other side, we too will act,” he said. “Unlike before, this time the Islamic Republic will not be convinced by just words or promises.”
The JCPOA deal was put into jeopardy when the US walked away from it back in 2018. Then-president Donald Trump accused Tehran of somehow violating the “spirit” of the agreement, despite international observers repeatedly confirming Iran’s compliance. Since then, Washington has imposed numerous sanctions on Iranian entities and individuals it claims are linked to the country’s nuclear program. Tehran, in turn, has gradually walked away from its JCPOA obligations, including ramping up uranium-enrichment activities.
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